The scariest thing happening on the ice this Halloween was far and away the Hawks’ defense or lack thereof against the Wild on Sunday. It was recently announced that Amy’s Eldest broke his thumb blocking a shot on Saturday night and is out approximately 3-4 weeks. So the Hawks gave one of the Johnson simulations a promotion all the way to the top pairing and gave us a middling at best defensive effort against the Wild—though it was an effort given while short a D-man, respectively. It was only by the grace of God that this team was able to grab a point. To the bullets!
- Jake McCabe continues to exhaust me on a nightly basis. Tonight he was able to put his usual annoying gameplay on pause to open the scoring and give the Hawks a 1-0 lead thanks to a wrister from the point. But then seconds later he lost his stick in a puck battle to the Wild because he just had to be THE BIG HIT GUY who DELIVERS BIG HITS. This utterly nonsensical play led directly to the Wild easily moving right around McCabe and Matt Boldy scoring to tie the game. After the few things he does right, he will automatically remind you about all the things he does wrong.
- Never this season did I think I’d see Toews’s give-a-shit meter be higher than Kane’s, but for this game it was definitely Toews sticking with it and taking as many offensive chances as he could get. Although he only had one goal to show for it, it was a game-tying goal where he went five-hole on old friend Marc-Andre Fleury. Now leading the team in goals, those chances have obviously paid off for the captain. Kane, however, looks like he couldn’t care less, which isn’t very helpful when the Hawks are down a goal. Maybe he’s just REALLY committed to Kyle Davidson’s tanking plan.
- It was a very nifty play by Kane and lots of quick maneuvering by Athanasiou that should be commended for the 3rd Hawks goal that turned into the big highlight of the night. I think it would’ve been awesome had Connor Murphy and Jarred Tinordi not left Matt Boldy once again all alone seconds after the goal was scored to easily fake out Alex Stalock and score on a wide-open net.
- There was plenty of roughhousing between the Hawks and Wild—the fast, skilled Hawks teams of yore have dissipated into whatever this team is, moving back in time to a classic physical hockey style which continues to exhaust me to my very core. Tinordi, who is just about only good for fighting, won a two-punch fight against Ryan Hartman, which was I guess fine. Then there was more tomfoolery after a hit that seemed to hurt Athanasiou’s hand and later on a dangerous hit on Kane that ended in his head slamming into the boards. What could’ve been a Hawks powerplay was instead turned back into a regular 5-on-5 situation, and the Hawks certainly didn’t win the game, so I’m still not sure what the point of it all was.
Next Game: 11/1 vs. Islanders
Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSCH+, WGN 720
New York Telephone Conversation: Lighthouse Hockey
The Islanders have won three straight against the likes of the Rangers, the Hurricanes and the Avalanche, some of the top teams in the league. If New York can continue to put the pedal to the metal, it might be an ugly night for the Hawks tonight.
The Islanders started out on a bit of a skid to start the season, starting out 2-4 before their recent win streak. But since then, the Islanders have had shutdown goaltending from Ilya Sorokin, who has a .933 save percentage so far this season, and also find themselves 4th in the league in 5-on-5 scoring. Their powerplay, however, leaves little to be desired as the Isles are 5th-worst in the league in PP%.
The Islanders forward groups have finally found some sort of formation it seems, with Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, and Oliver Wahlstrom sitting on the top line. Barzal leads the team in assists and points, whereas Wahlstrom has the team highest goals. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier are on the second line and responsible for about as much offense as the first. The aging skeleton of Zach Parise finds itself on the third line and is sporting a career-worst CF% so far this season. J.G. Pageau and Kyle Palmieri, his linemates, don’t do much for offense either. And of course the 4th line for the Islanders is the same as it always is, with Cal Clutterbuck in his 15th year, probably-overpaid Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas the most likely to be seen gooning with this younger, shittier Hawks team tonight.
Like the Hawks, the Islanders are finding themselves under the coaching guise of a first-year NHL coach in Lane Lambert, and the defense is starting to crack under the new style of play. It is no longer the defensively-solid, bore-teams-to-sleep style they were moderately successful at under Trotz’s rule. But having one of the best goaltenders in the league in Sorokin has recently masked some of this for the Islanders. Against Alex Stalock, who can’t even keep himself in his own crease, this game could spell trouble for the Hawks.