Everything Else

OK, so it wasn’t exactly like their performance against the Avalanche last week but it was enough. The Hawks have five wins in their last six games, and even more shocking, they have seven power play goals in that time. What a world. To the bullets:

Box Score

Corsica

Natural Stat Trick

– The Hawks started strong yet again, and if there is anything that makes watching them bearable, it’s them NOT finding themselves in a 2-0 hole by the five-minute mark. In fact, the Hawks were the ones up 2-0 relatively early, thanks to the functional power play and overall good puck movement in the first 10 minutes. Alex DeBrincat scored the PPG, which brings his scoring streak to five games, and as a whole, the power play continued to be a legitimate offensive weapon for the Hawks. Not long afterwards, Kane added a goal, putting him on a seven-game scoring streak as well. Things were looking up.

– Then, Gustav Forsling went all Gustav Forsling all over everything. He took a dumbass penalty late in the first which led to Rantanen’s goal. And while Foreskin’s tripping penalty set things up, his was not the only defensive failure at this point. Keith and Seabrook were on the PK and I swear to you they stood still and watched as Gabriel ThisLandIsYourLand walked up to the net and scored. It was patently absurd.

– But he wasn’t done yet! Forsling managed to do the exact same thing at the end of the second period, although Nathan MacKinnon had already scored on…wait for it…a delayed penalty just seconds prior. Forsling repeatedly passed to no one and went around tripping people and yet, he had a 72 CF%. Hockey is weird.

– Speaking of weird, the Hawks’ power play has been, as we’ve mentioned, downright functional as of late. But in the third when they had a 5-on-3 the Hawks completely shat the bed. They went right back to everyone standing around waiting for Patrick Kane to do something. When Kane did get a shot, it was a crazy deflection off the post and into the crowd on the other side of the ice. It was impressive in its own way. But that didn’t make up for the fact that with a 2-man advantage and one defender with a broken stick—so basically a 2.5-man advantage—the Hawks receded to their bad habits of not moving themselves or the puck.

– They made up for it by scoring on a power play right at the start of OT, thanks to Connor Murphy once again getting his face demolished, this time by Landeskog. He ain’t pretty no more (he was never pretty anyway), but who cares, we’ll take whatever help we can get. Toews batted down the puck with a suspiciously high stick and fed it to Kane, exactly the quick puck movement that they needed. Luckily the refs were as done with the game as anyone, so no one bothered to review if Toews’ stick really was over the crossbar. Again, we’ll take whatever we can get.

– In other news, Collin Delia looked really good once again. Neither goal can be pinned on any mistake of his; the first one, his defenders sat on their asses and watched, and the second was in the midst of a defensive breakdown and scramble. In fact, he was the sole reason the Hawks didn’t get brained late in the first and through most of the second. His positioning and composure were both exactly what the Hawks needed, particularly with the Avs top line having their way with whoever was on the ice at the time. Delia ended the night with a .938 SV% and had better get the god damn start on New Year’s Day.

– Alex DeBrincat is not a fucking third liner. Why can’t Coach Cool Youth Pastor see this? What more must this guy do?! FUCKING SHIT

Dylan Strome had two assists and continues to be eminently useful. Meanwhile Artem Anisimov is still 10 steps slower than Strome and Kane on their line, and it’s beyond frustrating to imagine how many goals a DeBrincat-Strome-Kane line would have. Anisimov stumbled over or lost the puck in his feet at least three chances tonight. It seems so obvious.

Another win so we’ll have to just shut up and deal with our line combination complaints, and hope that Forsling can benched or traded or teleported to the land of wind and ghosts ANYTHING JUST MAKE IT STOP. But there’s no better way to go into the Winter Classic, such as it is. Onward and upward.

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Corsica

Sometimes you want something so badly that you become fixated on it, you turn the image or idea over and over in your mind, and eventually you build it up into a magnificence that’s totally out of proportion. And when you finally get it, the reality can’t possibly live up to your imagined ideal, and the chasm between desire and result is painfully clear. I am happy to report this situation did NOT happen tonight with my defensive pairing fantasy-turned-reality of Kempny-Murphy while Seabrook sat in the press box. Let’s get right to it:

– I was, dare I say, elated to hear that Seabrook was getting sat tonight. No, I don’t hate him—in fact I have an inordinate amount of affection for anyone on the Cup-winning teams (I know, I know, I’ve bashed him all season but you’ve got to believe me). So honestly, I felt pangs of guilt over how happy I was. And I still feel some now over how happy I am with the defensive play tonight generally. Yes, Rutta got de-pantsed by Duchene in the first, yes, he and Foreskin were scrambling like meth-addled gerbils in the second which led to the first Senators goal, but we knew they were going to pull shit like that. What I care about was that Michal Kempny and CONNOR MURPHY! had, respectively, a 71 and 69 CF% (NICE). Two of the Hawks’ goals included assists by both defensemen on the ice at the time. This was a defense I could live with, even if I’m still confused by Forsling-Rutta (whatever). As my esteemed colleague Adam mentioned earlier today on Twitter, we can make fun of Seabrook and still think good things about him. I’ll be thinking of warm fuzzy memories while he enjoys nachos from the comfort of the press box (fingers crossed).

– Wtf where has this power play been? The Hawks scored three—count ’em three—power play goals tonight, which I’m pretty sure ties their pp goals for the season. Schmaltz had two of them, which more than made up for his rather dismal possession numbers (25 CF%?? Hey, you get a pass tonight, pal!). All the way around, they had better traffic in front of the net, and while the Senators’ PK definitely blows (28th in the league), the Hawks power play actually blows worse (29th). So if this is what it takes to get some creativity and confidence on the man advantage, so be it. Better they’re the punching bag than us.

– I know there’s been a lot of chatter about the Hawks somehow waving a magic salary cap wand and getting Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline, and the merits of this idea are best saved for another time and place, but I can’t get over his dejection at taking a needless interference penalty in the second which led to Rutta’s goal. Karlsson finished the night with a 63.9 CF% so it wasn’t all doom and gloom—he just pulled a great Denis Lemieux.

– Speaking of Ottawa defensemen, I truly forgot that Dion Phaneuf was still in the league. I found he’s still a useless oaf, and I hope he goes away soon.

– Patrick Kane had five points tonight, and apparently that’s the first time he’s done that, which seems odd. It would have been better if Schmaltz had gotten a hat trick instead of Kane getting the 8th goal in the third period, but isn’t this a nice thing to be complaining about?

– Anton Forsberg was solid again tonight. He finished with a .926 SV%, and I couldn’t even hold the first goal against him. The Senators had about 35 chances while Forsling and Rutta do what they do in the defensive zone, and Mark Stone eventually capitalized after about 17 of those 35 chances. Forsberg made key saves when he needed to and he looked confident and well-positioned. Keep it going, guy.

You couldn’t ask for more than a DLR when going through a rapid sequence of games right before the bye week. It’s not only that points are important, which they most certainly are, but the Hawks also need to take advantage on nights like this and beat shitty opponents (check), and some momentum through this week when they’re facing the Jets in a few days definitely helps too. Also, you can’t tell me it’s a coincidence that on the night when the entire team sees that membership in the Circle of Trust actually has limits, they explode like a pimple and score eight goals. Yes, the Senators suck, but the Hawks have played plenty of shitty teams and not had a DLR.

On that note, I’d just like to point out that the last DLR this season was game #1, when I was doing the wrap, and now at the halfway point of the season, as I’m writing the wrap, they do it again. Clearly it’s me, so you’re all welcome.

Beer of the night: Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ by Lagunitas