Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Sometimes there is just very little you can say about a hockey game to accurately describe what occurred, and tonight is one of those nights. I don’t wanna waste what I do have on the intro so let’s dive in to the bullets:

– The first period was something of a roller coaster of emotions, as the Hawks played well on the offensive side of the ice, but truly horribly on the other end. There was a stretch of play during a Philly PP where the Hawks had two or three better scoring chances than the Flyers were able to generate the rest of the man advantage, but in not cashing in the feeling went from “damn what a chance” to “oh shit, it’s one of those nights then” really fast, at least for me. They were getting shots on net and moving the puck well, but on the other side they were basically letting up a shot every minute and getting run around the zone. It was a difficult contrast to settle with, and made what was ultimately a good period (54.04 CF%) feel “just okay.”

– Adding to that feeling of the first being just okay was how incredible the scoring chances the Hawks were giving up were. There were multiple open net chances blown by the Flyers – all night, not just in the first period – that should’ve ended up behind Crawford. And when Philly ultimately did beat Crow, they did so by having a guy come off the bench and skate his way all the way into the slot without being even breathed on, and he still had three feet of clearance from the closest defenseman when he let the shot go. Having good possession numbers is mad far less valuable if you can’t play competent defense and are giving away nothing but A+ chances.

– To add to that last point, if the Hawks had played that way against a more competent team, they would’ve lost 6-1 rather than 3-1. Even with a 65.31 CF% for the whole game, they had just 44.44% of the High Danger Chances. You can’t be doing that and expect to win a game, especially in a must-win scenario like they were facing tonight.

– Corey Crawford deserves better than the defense in front of him giving away those chances, but he also can’t be giving up goals like the Flyers’ second and ultimate game-winning score. There was some traffic out front, but a 40-foot backhand floater from the boards beating you blocker side is just embarrassing shit. Crow played well tonight, but given the lack of overall finish in the Hawks game tonight, you can’t get your team behind the 8-Ball like that.

– Writing off the Hawks lack of scoring as lack of finish also might be a bit generous. Even with 41 shots on goal overall tonight, it felt a lot like the Hawks were just being trigger-shy at times when they shouldn’t have been, especially early on in the game.

– This was a blown chance at gaining serious ground in the playoff hunt, and in the end they ended up falling even further down the standings because of the Avs’ winning. Personally I still think that the lower they finish the better, but I’m also into the idea of playoff hockey and games that matter. At this point they need to pick a lane – let’s bottom this shit out, or figure out shit out and get to the damn playoffs.

Everything Else

If the rumors are true and not only has Artem Anisimov been asked to submit the list of 10 teams he will accept a trade to, but the Hawks are able and inclined to act on it, we know their coach, vociferous fans, media, and maybe some woodland creatures are going to stamp their feet, wave their arms, and declare loudly, “But who I say, what squire will we find to play the part of ‘Annette Frontpresence’? Wherever shall we locate such a burly fellow to blot out the sun, entrench himself in the depths of the slot, and rabble-rouse our worthy and formidable foes?! WHERE I SAY?! ANSWER ME HEATHENS!!!”

Yes, that’s exactly what they’ll say.

Well fear not, members of the court. There is a solution out there. And we know the Hawks love anyone named “van Riemdsyk.” The only fear is that Q will think it’s Trevor again and play him on defense, and way too much. Hell, this was the same team and fanbase that thought Trevor Daley was the same thing as Johnny Oduya because they were both black, remember.

You don’t have to do much to sell JVR to anyone. 65 goals the past two seasons, when the Leafs were finally worth a shit. He’s scored at a 25+ goal pace for six seasons now, though three seasons ago only played 40 games due to injury. If it’s metrics you want, and I know that you do, he was an absolutely dominant possession player last year in T.O, with a +7.4 relative Corsi on a Mike Babcock team, which is not easy to do. That was his second +7% or better relative-Corsi season in the past three.

The caveat here is that he did that while playing with Tyler Bozak and Connor Brown, which basically was the Leafs third line. Which meant cherry zone-starts, as Nazem Kadri and his non-stop yap were used as a checking line. JVR started 62% of his shifts start in the offensive zone, after 57% the year before. It also meant that JVR saw some of the easier competition among Leafs forwards, though not the easiest.

Another one is that JVR’s goal-total this season was “inflated” by 11 power play goals, though it’s not like those count for less. The Leafs’ power play worked a lot better than the Hawks, but you’d like to think with the right defensive signing/trade the Hawks’ PP could unfuck itself. But then again we’ve thought that a lot and we’re up to a decade of Duncan Keith shots into shinpads and Patrick Kane doing a James Harden impression for the truly deranged. JVR’s 14.5 SH% was a career-high, and you’re right to be somewhat leery of that, but it’s not wholly out of line with his career 11.5%. If he had managed only the latter number last year that still would have meant 28 goals, and the Hawks could use 28 goals (Yale could use an international airport…).

You can see sticking JVR on the left side of Kane and Schmaltz, having him clear some space for their speed and handling, and banging home loose change and rebounds until his heart’s content. You could see him as a Saad replacement if Saad has to be dealt for Justin Faulk or something similar. The appeal is quite obvious.

So the question becomes cost. Well, it just so happens another winger with a big man’s game went on the market last year after a SH%-spiked career season, and his name was Timothy Jimothy. He got $5.75 million for forever, and he was one year older than JVR is now at the time. Now, you and I may blech at giving JVR seven or eight years until he’s 36 or 37. But as we’ve discussed many, many times, that might not really matter to Stan Bowman because the likelihood of him still being GM then is nearly nil (not Jim Nill). If he were still here in eight years that would be a 17-year stretch as GM, which is basically unheard of. Either the Hawks suck again and he’s out on his ass, or they spasm one or two more good seasons out of this group before returning to the depths and he’s fired then. So if JVR has been identified as a “must have,” then the Hawks are going to toss whatever years at him and not even worry about it because hey, that’ll be someone else’s problem and dumping it off on someone else is the American dream.

So really, JVR shouldn’t come in at anything more than $6 million, though he’s probably asking for $7M and maybe some team is dumb enough to give it to him If he can be had for somewhere between $5-$6M, you probably pull the trigger. A top six of Top Cat-Toews-Saad and then JVR-Schmalt-Kane looks pretty tasty from where where I’m standing.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: CSN, CBC, CITY, WGN-AM 720
Jeff Veillette and Steve Glynn Are Terrifying: Pension Plan

Sure, the Hawks have improbably vaulted themselves into basically a game and a half lead in the central as they close out their eastern Canadian swing tonight in the Dark Center Of The Universe that is Toronto, but they haven’t done it the right way. They take on too many shots, even though that’s a result of having leads, they capitalize on power plays, and they do so while paying players more than their entry level contract. All of these things are instantly disqualifiers for actual success, which is truly indicated by how much cap space a team has at the end of the year, thrown into a pivot chart against their possession stats and 5v5 goal differential, along with some other stupid fucking stats Steve Burtch made up in a craven, desperate, and pathetic attempt to get hired. And naturally, the Leafs are succeeding by all of those measures, and all the good stuff is because of Kyle Dubas (who shielded sex criminal players on the junior team he was GM for), and all the bad stuff is because of Lou Lamoriello. This is how Maple Leafs hockey works.