Hockey

If nothing else, Derek King and Marc Crawfrod’s Hawks are keeping themselves in games far more than at any point in the Alpo Colliton era, and are doing it via repeatable means – otherwise known as structure. The Hawks are keeping teams to the outside as much as possible, and shock of shocks, forcing them to complete at least two or three passes to get a clean look at Marc-Andre Fleury, who has completely turned his game around since the coaching change as well. For all that is made of Flower’s acrobatics, and deservedly so as this outlet is on record as stating he’s the most athletically gifted individual to ever be tetched in the head enough to put that equipment on, he is also dogmatic to his butterfly angles as well. Put that together and you have a first overall pick who plays a nearly 20 year career with 3 Cups, Five Finals appearances, a Vezina, and is now one of three goalies to ever backstop 500 wins (however they’re counted).

It will be interesting going forward to see what his wishes are on where he wants to end this season. Given the above resume, it doesn’t seem like there’s much he needs to play for anymore, and he did have to be convinced to even come here and uprooted his family to do so. But there’s always going to be a team that wants goalie help, and he’ll likely be the top option should this caliber of play continue, and the Hawks might be able to turn him into some futures they desperately need.

12/7 – Rangers 6, Hawks 2

Box Score 
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks hung around in this one probably longer than they should have given what the Rangers’ top line is capable of, but they certainly made it count on the power play. In the two games against the Blue shirts the Hawks never seemed to be able to figure out how to handle things running from the left half wall off the stick of the right handed Artemi Panarin, who had 7 points in two games against his former club. Sometimes he’ll just do that, but it shouldn’t have been as easy for him as it looked. The big story was Jacob Trouba sending Jujhar Khaira to the hospital with a viscous hit that was unpenalized. There’s no way to legislate intent in hits like these, and Trouba’s elbows were in and his feet were on the ground and Khaira’s head was down, the intent was still to blow him up good. But the fact of the matter is that his shoulder made contact with his face first, and then Khaira’s head bounced off the ice, worsening the outcome. Of course Trouba went on to blindside Nathan MacKinnon the following night in a similarly borderline hit that was unpunished, while MacKinnon was sent to the room by the spotter. There shouldn’t even be any room for interpretation for these types of hits – a check to the head should equal an automatic GTFO with some combination of misconduct/match penalty/major. The NHL is literally the only league in the world that does not have a rule like this, and it’s asinine.

12/9 – Hawks 2, Habs 0

Box Score 
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

The less said about the actual particulars of the game play of Thursday night, the better. For nearly all of the game it was simply a case of two drunks bumping into each other in the dark repeatedly. Jonathan Toews finally scored, so there’s that at least. But obviously the big story was Marc-Andre Fleury’s 500th win in shutout fashion in his home province, and the fans in Montreal took a break from being entitled as shit and bragging about how many cups they won back when there were 6 teams full of Canadian auto mechanics to recognize a modern player’s real achievement. A nice moment, sincerely.

12/11 – Leafs 5, Hawks 4

Box Score
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

Even with Jonathan Toews scoring AGAIN in the first two minutes of this game, this one quickly returned to feeling like the foregone conclusion it was supposed to be with 4 unanswered goals in about 20 minutes worth of game time, two on the power play. The Hawks’ kill has been for the most part passable-to-solid this season with either regime, but they simply cannot afford to take penalties against teams with forwards like the Leafs and Rangers have, because there’s just simply too much skill there. The Leafs then kind of let their foot off the gas and allowed the Hawks to score effects their way back into things with a couple seeing eye shots and one spectacular individual effort from Sam’s guy Phil Kurashev to beat out two Leafs for an icing to whack the puck over to an alone in the slot Dominik Kubalik. Losing on a bad stanchion bounce to the very useful David Kampf is a bummer, but it happens.

 

Ed note: I for some reason had convinced myself that the game went to OT as I left the house on Saturday night and eventually saw that they lost. They did not go to OT. This has been corrected. 

 

It’s a busy week coming up with some actual divisional games at the end of it, and another chance to watch Ovie. The games against Dallas and Nashville are certainly within reach.

Hockey

So after a weekend where the Hawks did a little better than expected with a surprise win against the Caps in Washington for the first time in the smartphone era, they’ll return home tonight for a quick stop off before heading back east again into Canada for the Habs and Leafs over the weekend. And all the problems that the Hawks have had still remain, such as not being able to score like AT ALL, and as a result they can’t win in regulation, but at this point they’ll take the victories any way they can get them. Five of the Hawks 9 total wins have come in OT or the shootout, but after the way things started, going to extra time against eastern conference opponents on the road isn’t the worst thing by a LONG shot.

What’s been the story and has been emphasized on this road trip is the Hawks newfound commitment to shot suppression under Derek King, or more than likely, Marc Crawford’s shadow regime. In the month since they have taken over, the Hawks are allowing the third fewest high danger chances in the league, and are solidly in the middle of the pack with regard to overall chances and shots allowed per 60 minutes of 5v5 hockey. Combining that with Fleury’s .956 at evens during that time, and they’re at least giving themselves a chance. In the first month of the season, Fleury allowed 13 high danger goals, since he’s allowed 3. All of these numbers paint a picture of a team that is playing with a lot more structure in its own end. It truly is the goddamnedest thing isn’t it?

Of course, they still can’t score a damn goal to save their lives, and if DeBrincat or Garbage Dick don’t do it, no one else is going to. Toews and Dach are complete non entities on the score sheet at the moment, which was never part of any plan either regime may have had. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s statistical anomaly, whether it’s Toews still fighting through rust or Dach fundamentally being a different player than he was drafted do be and/or boned by inept coaching, but they can’t be counted on for anything until they show differently, so it’s likely these close, counterattacking games are here to stay. What purpose that serves with regard to the long-term trajectory of the team still remains to be seen

12/7 vs Rangers

Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, Various SportsNets, WGN-AM 720
Yauch Forever – Blueshirt Banter

Well, the Hawks get a look at the Blueshirts for the second time in less than a week, this time on home ice where hopefully they can keep track of the guy wearing 10 in white a little better. He should look pretty familiar, he’s kind of good. With Shesterkin having some form of crotch detatchment the night before they played the Hawks last time, Gerard Gallant now turns his jowly gaze to Alexandar Georgiev and his .856 save percentage in the meantime. The Rangers haven’t played since the two teams’ date at MSG on Saturday so they’re still riding a six game winning streak, and have won 10 of their last 11, their only loss coming to the equally hot Maple Leafs, whom the Hawks face on Saturday. Shesterkin isn’t slated to be out long term, so they should be able to keep solid footing in the turbo competitive Metro division.

12/9 at Montreal

Game Time – 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Mont Tremblant Seems Lovely – Eyes On The Prize

Finally, a matchup of the two biggest fuckup franchises so far this season. The problems locally are pretty well covered and lead in grotesqueness by a wide margin, but a quick rundown of the Habs’ misery – After a fluke run to the Cup Final in a made up playoff format in an abbreviated season, they promptly took any good will they had and flushed it down the toilet by drafting a known sex criminal in the first round, and then shat all over themselves justifying it. Then, franchise goalie Carey Price checked himself into a substance abuse clinic on the eve of the season starting where he can hopefully get the help he’s seeking, but leaving the team dangling with Jay Gallon now in a #1 role he’s already shown he’s never been cut out for. Add a predictably shitty start where no one is scoring because they never really had any top end finish to begin with, and that FINALLY cost Marc Bergevin his job. His replacement is the recently discussed former GM of the Rangers Jeff Gorton, who isn’t a Francophone, so at least they might be done with that stupid rule. Anyway, the Habs have played 2 more games than the Hawks and are 6 points behind them, just to give an indication of how things are going there.

12/11 at Tronna

Game Time – 6:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, CBC, NHL Network, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Arrest Drake. Arrest Rivers Dubas. – Pension Plan

It’s that time of year again where the hockey cognoscenti declare the Leafs an unstoppable juggernaut with about a third of the season played. And the thing is, they’re not wrong inasmuch as the Leafs are a very good team loaded with offensive firepower and are playing very well at the moment. It’s just a race to trip over their own dicks to coronate a team with nearly the longest cup drought in the history of the sport, and they haven’t learned to hedge their bets even a little bit yet. And it’s not fair to pin it on one guy just because their sex-crime-apologist/victim-blaming GM has in the person of Jack Campbell in net, but that’s eventually what it’s going to come down to, whether or not he can stand up to anything in the playoffs. And given the way the aforementioned Metro looks, as well as with Tampa still lurking in Toronto’s on FlorTheast having not lost a playoff series in a very long time, it’s probably a little early to start with this shit, if only because it just adds to the amount of time the general public has to listen to Leafs fans, and hear about what it’s like to be a Leafs fan. Anyway, Jason Spezza is probably getting an unpaid vacation for a while after the to-do with Neil Pionk, and Mitch Marner is ouchy, and they’ll probably still boat race the Hawks on home ice. And that’s fine.

Everything Else

Monty-Python-and-The-Holy-Grail-monty-python-16581100-845-468 vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Les Incompétents: Habs EOTP

As the Hawks continue through this meat grinder stretch of the schedule where they are consistently taking on the upper-echelon teams of the league, they will complete their season series with the Montreal Canadiens tonight on home ice. The first meeting up at the Molson Centre didn’t go quite so well for the Habs, and it’s still close enough in the rear-view mirror for them to remember it well.

Everything Else

Monty-Python-and-The-Holy-Grail-monty-python-16581100-845-468 vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Les Incompétents: Habs EOTP

As the Hawks continue through this meat grinder stretch of the schedule where they are consistently taking on the upper-echelon teams of the league, they will complete their season series with the Montreal Canadiens tonight on home ice. The first meeting up at the Molson Centre didn’t go quite so well for the Habs, and it’s still close enough in the rear-view mirror for them to remember it well.

Everything Else

simpsons french waiter canadiens vs oldschool

Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, TSN (Anglophone), RDS (Francophone), 87.7FM The Game
Les Incompétents: Habs EOTP

Tonight the home schedule for the Hawks’ regular season comes to its thrilling conclusion with an Original Six Matchup (TM) against their perpetually entitled ancient nemesis Montreal Canadiens. And neither really have much to play for at this stage heading into the final weekend of the season.

Everything Else

simpsons french waiter canadiens vs oldschool

Game Time: 6:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, TSN (Anglophone), RDS (Francophone), 87.7FM The Game
Les Incompétents: Habs EOTP

Tonight the home schedule for the Hawks’ regular season comes to its thrilling conclusion with an Original Six Matchup (TM) against their perpetually entitled ancient nemesis Montreal Canadiens. And neither really have much to play for at this stage heading into the final weekend of the season.

Everything Else

Leahy looks at the new deal, including the end of 12/26 at the UC: PD

Here are the 26 in camp: BH

Does Bolland to 2C feel a little like Hester to WR to anyone else?: ESPNChi

Want to make me happy, here’s an idea WIN GAMES: CSN

The farm is fairly stocked: HF

A closer look at the teams we hate: CtA

Bergevin and Les Habitants send Gomez home: PHT

hahahahhahahahah… but no really ahahahahahaha good luck with that hahahaha: NM