It had to happen sooner or later, but who would have ever guessed the Hawks’s seven-game win streak would end at the hands of a team that can do more than just feign competence on the ice? Oh, you did? The Bruins ran over the Hawks from start to finish, who were a complete open sewer in their own zone tonight (more so than usual, even). Compound that with a relatively weak showing from Delia and the fancy stats finally match up with the outcome. Let’s dig around this one.
– None of us here at the Program are too wild about this man-to-man defensive scheme Colliton is dead set on making happen. Tonight is a perfect example of why that is. The Hawks posted an embarrassing 34+ CF% at 5v5. They didn’t end a single period on the positive side of the ledger. Sikura and Seabrook (?!) were the only two Hawks who had a positive CF% on the night. Over and over, the Hawks were caught double teaming because they either can’t or won’t communicate with one another when someone loses their man, which is often, because as a team they’re so goddamn slow.
This was evident on Boston’s second goal, when Murphy got caught playing Bergeron too far out along the far boards. Toews came over to cover along with Murphy, leaving Dahlstrom hanging out to to dry against Marchand and Heinen. Either Murphy needs to stick with Bergeron all the way, leaving Toews to cover Chara at the point (which is where Bergeron threw it after reading the double cover, and which doesn’t really solve the problem of who’s covering one of Marchand or Heinen down low) or Toews needs to call Murphy off and let him retreat. They did neither, and Chara had all the time in the world to throw the puck down low to two open skaters.
This was evident on Boston’s third goal. Delia gave up a comically bad rebound right in front of the net, which looked like how a dense and painful fart sounds. Of course Gus and Gusser were on the ice for that, covering absolutely no one and giving Heinen and Marchand all the time in the world yet again.
This was evident on Boston’s fourth goal (are you sensing a pattern?), with Murphy coming out way too far to cover Krejci on the near boards, leaving Jake DeBrusk all alone in front of Delia for an easy tip. This one’s a bit more excusable, since it was at the end of a PK, but still, Murphy doesn’t need to skate almost entirely past the near-side dot to cover Krejci from that bad an angle.
Those three goals were all a result of someone losing their coverage and no one covering his ass. Whether they’re communicating or not (they’re not) doesn’t really matter, because even if they are (and again, they aren’t, as evidenced by how profoundly open these goal scorers were), this team simply doesn’t have the speed to cover when coverage is blown. You’d think those thick rims Colliton borrowed from Rivers Cuomo’s dumb ass would help him see that, but here we are. This system will not work for this team as presently constituted, especially against teams who are better than “gas station toilet overflow,” which Boston decidedly is.
– This was probably Connor Murphy’s worst game of the year, and if he’s not playing well, they’re fucked. He was caught out of position more often than not and took that terrible cross-checking penalty that ended up leading to Boston’s fourth goal, which, surprise, Murphy’s poor positioning capped off. They can’t all be winners.
– Forsling and Gustafsson were festering scabs tonight too, each with a 22+ CF%. On Boston’s third goal, Forsling did that thing where he’s facing his own goaltender when his opponent scores, which is a very normal thing for an NHL defenseman who’s being showcased to do. There’s not really anything Forsling does right out there, but when your alternative is Slater Koekkoek, all you can do is wait for the sweet embrace of death to blot out the misery, because Chiarelli can’t save you anymore.
– The PK was a urethral wart tonight too. Sure, they technically killed off a 5-on-3. But Caggiula’s awful positioning on the first PK led to Boston’s game-tying goal. Then, in the third, Torey Krug drew both Kruger and Dahlstrom along the near boards, leaving Murphy alone against Heinen and Cehlarik. There’s no reason for a D-man to fly to the near boards on the PK like Dahlstrom did.
– John Hayden sucks, and the sooner they trade him to whoever takes over Peter Chiarelli’s mantle as head dumbass, the better.
– Brendan Perlini played seven minutes at 5v5 and had 0 CF and 15 CA for a 0% CF on the night. That’s fucking something. I’ve never seen it before and never want to see again.
– Kane keeps his scoring streak alive at 15 games, dropping a nifty pass to Keith, who then handed it off to Gustafsson on a 4 on 4, allowing Gus to RuPaul his way toward his 12th goal. Other than that, though, Kane was a ghost, but given how he’s quite literally carried this team over the last several months, you sort of get it.
– Watching Brent Seabrook lose the puck to no one and have to take a tripping penalty as his recovery—which led to Boston’s first goal—was very on brand.
This is what this team will look like against anyone who’s actually sniffing at the playoffs, not simply the beneficiary of the NHL’s lust for faux parity. They aren’t fast enough to play man and aren’t smooth enough to recover against teams that pressure them. Fortunately, the only marginally good teams the Hawks play for the rest of the month are Dallas and Columbus, so it’s possible they keep this playoff-run farce up for a bit longer. That would be OK, because the winning was fun, like trying to eat four dipped combos from Al’s in one sitting.
Onward. . .
Booze du Jour: Makers 46 and Pedialyte (The De-Rehydrater)
Line of the Night: Hung out in the Mute Lounge tonight.