Everything Else

It’s been a couple days so we should get to it. Whatever your list is of grievances that you’d like to air by firing Stan Bowman, if you have one, you can add two more.

I’m sure the Hawks thought it would slip under the radar, and it kind of did because everything they do these days slips under the radar because almost all of the city doesn’t give a flying fuck about them anymore. Either way, the Hawks re-signed both Eric Gustafsson and Jan Rutta to extensions, and combined they will cost $3.5 million combined next year.

I’m going to try and be reasonable about this….


Now that that’s out, let’s get to it. There’s really no other way to dress this. Both Eric Gustafsson and Jan Rutta suck. They might not be the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked, but they’re not far from the team photo. Neither one of these guys will ever rise to the level of anything more than a third-pairing d-man.

For literally no reason, Stan Bowman doubled Gustafsson’s salary. All he had to offer him was about 700K. Now, you might think the difference of about $500K really isn’t worth worrying about, but as we’ve seen, every dollar counts in a cap era, even if the cap goes up. And Gustafsson has shown nothing to warrant being offered much more than a pointed finger to the door. If he were going to provide offensive spark, we would have seen it by now. He’s 25 and basically never really flashed in the NHL. How much longer are you going to wait? And who was Stan bidding against? Who was coming to save Gustafsson from Chicago?

The Rutta one is even more baffling. He can’t regularly crack the lineup even after the trade of Michal Kempny, and yet you just hand him $2.3 million? What is it he does? Is Stan so fixated by the fact he’s been able to spasm six goals into the net and no one else on the blue line can find the right zip code with their shots? Again, what was Rutta going to get on the open market?

Here’s a list of UFA d-men you could probably get for $2.3 million this summer: Calvin de Haan, Cody Ceci, Luca Sbisa, John Moore, maybe Thomas Hickey, Dalton Prout, the aforementioned Kempny. Most of these guys suck, and yet all of them are better than Rutta.

It’s not like Stan hasn’t been able to admit a mistake. Fuck, he just traded Ryan Hartman and he wasn’t a mistake (and I’m fairly sure that trade is going to work out as having “sucked”). I have no idea why he’s doubling down on these two, but if it costs the Hawks a higher quality free agent this summer or a trade, it honestly probably should be the final nail in his coffin.

-I don’t think we can state long enough and hard enough just how pathetic the Hawks top players were last night. And you can toss out all the caveats you want–Canes are more desperate, they’ve always been a good possession team, blah blah blah–to have Corsi marks under 20% you actually have to try to do so.

I try and reserve myself about games where the Hawks haven’t looked like they care. Losing teams always look “flat,” or at least do most of the time. But the Hawks are a good possession team, or at least they have been. And for their top line and top pairing to simply get skulled by a team that doesn’t actually have a top line is simply unacceptable. You can’t say they were all there, or fully focused, to be that bad.

I can’t ask this team much more than to actually just show up and finish out the season professionally. Last night was anything but. That falls squarely on the leadership. They’re not going to fire Toews and Keith and Seabrook as captains, at least I doubt it. So you know where that goes. But I’m guessing Rocky and McD are too chickenshit to let that happen, nor do they have the scruples to replace Stan competently (which would involve probably firing Q anyway). So if the Hawks don’t care now, why am I going to assume they will next year at this time after another seven months of listening to a coach’s voice it’s becoming more and more apparent they’ve tired of?

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Box Score

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Natural Stat Trick

The game flow may have had all the appeal of a freshly shot snot rocket hanging menacingly from a necessary hand rail, but there were quite a few things to get excited about in this Friday night affair. To the bullets:

– If not for the Fels Motherfuck, which apparently is airborne now, J-F Berube would have had a 43-save shutout. But 42 out of 43 ain’t bad either, especially given the circumstances. This was his first start as a Blackhawk in front of a team that doesn’t have much to play for. He went up against a team that got wedgied so hard against Nashville that all the testosterone in their bodies should have been stuffed into their brains, and yet the Sharks, who still have quite a bit to play for, couldn’t solve him. And it wasn’t terribly flukey either. Berube rarely looked lost out there and even made a few outstanding saves in the third, none more obvious than his highway robbery of Jannik “Don’t Call Me Isaac” Hansen after a brilliant saucer pass from Tomas Hertl. It’s a little early to start the “WHY DON’T DEY TRADE CRAWFERD N LET DAT BER-YUBE GUY START” bus, but he sure looked good tonight.

– Anthony Duclair sure played like he wanted an extension tonight, and if the Hawks’s brass is smart, they should be giving it to him. He was all over the place tonight, assisting on both Rutta’s and Schmaltz’s goals. The Rutta assist was a thing of beauty, as he danced from behind the goal line to feed Rutta, who had to regroup his own backfire to plant the goal. And his steal on a flubbed reception from Mikkel “Not Clarence” Boedker was topped only by his gorgeous backhanded pass through the Royal Road to birthday boy Nick Schmaltz. He topped it all off with an even 50 CF% and a 1.55 CF% Rel. All in all, a solid night for the young man.

– In fact, most of the Hawks contributors were on the young side. Vinnie was all over the ice, even though he didn’t show up on the score sheet. Saad was similar, with a 63+ CF% and an utterly gorgeous power move toward the net right before Schmaltz’s goal. Erik Gustafsson looked decent out there as well, and though the possession numbers are damning, DeBrincat looked poised to score all night. While this season may be shot, there is hope for the future.

– Jan Rutta had himself a decent game off the IR. He’ll never be more than a bottom pairing guy, but when he’s on and not entirely out of gas, he’s a serviceable defenseman. He was persistent on his goal, and he now leads all Hawks D-men with six goals, which is less surprising than it seems, given he was scouted as an offensive defenseman.

– Our Special Irish Boy Connor Murphy was the odd man out among the youngins. Tonight was by far one of his worst performances since October. Between his poor outlet pass in the first, his sloppy interference penalty in the third, and his team-second-worst 40+ CF% (behind only Arty the One Man Party’s 32+), it was simply not one to write home about. Though it is tempting to pin it on Seabrook—whom the Sharks targeted any time he was on the ice—it’s not acceptable to transfer blame if we expect Murphy to be what we want him to be, especially when Seabs isn’t doing anything egregious, as was the case tonight. It’s just one game, but it sure was disappointing.

– I’m ready for one of the moron GMs to throw a 3rd round pick at the Hawks for Tommy Wingels. I get why he’s skating on the top line with Saad and Toews, and I get why he’s on the power play, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. He puked all over his skates on two prime passes to Saad in the first, schlepping it into Saad’s skates on the first and air mailing him on the second. With Saad’s luck this year, neither were likely to go in, but give the man a chance.

–Watching Duncan Keith lose half a step is still weird. His CF% was a 48+ on the night, and one of his most noticeable plays was a botched drop pass at his own blue line in the first that led to a turnover. Yes, he’s getting older, yes, he has to learn to adjust, and yes, he’s playing with Jordan Oesterle, but it’s strange to admit that he’s gone from a for-sure #1 to somewhere closer to a #2/#3 this year.

– The power play is still a fart you shouldn’t have given the benefit of the doubt. It’s a fucking totem for the year.

It sure wasn’t pretty, but it’s two points. I’m far too stubborn and proud to talk about tanking, so two points against a playoff contender is a good night cap.

Onward to Columbus.

Beer du Jour: I went sober for the first, and made up for it with Steel Reserve and Miller High Light tall boys, followed by a glass of the Sacrament on this Lenten Friday.

Line of the Night: “The Blackhawks will put together a win streak for the first time in February.” – Foley

Everything Else

Since the last time we did this, the Hawks have gone 1-2-1 with a -3 goal differential. Things got progressively better after the “slam all of your fingers in a car door during a -10 wind chill” effort against the Islanders, so let’s see if we can suss out what’s going on here.

The Dizzying Highs

Anthony Duclair: The points have only just begun to come, but Duclair is yet another example of Arizona being the place where good hockey goes to die. Over the past four games, Duclair’s 5v5 CF% has never dipped below 58, and he’s sporting a four-game average of 64. Playing with DeBrincat and Toews has done him good, with the glut of his Blackhawks points coming in the Motor City Massacre last Thursday. Duclair’s speed is what sets him apart most, and it makes sense that having a playmaker like DeBrincat playing with him has begun to unlock his scoring potential. When the only thing you haven’t mastered is the breakaway backhander, you’re in a good spot.

Alex DeBrincat: Top Cat has trended similarly to Duclair over the last four games, with a 55+ CF% overall at 5v5. He’d hovered around 50 combined against New York and Tampa, until grouping with Toews and Duclair, which over two games has returned a 58+ CF%, four points, and a hat trick. It seems that DeBrincat and Duclair make each other better, as in the limited time they’ve had together, they’ve posted a 55 CF% with Toews and an astounding 70 CF% without Toews. (Don’t tell the good folks at Twitter dot com about that last part, lest you want to hear a Master’s length thesis about how the Hawks should trade Toews, an idea so profoundly offensive that even Zappa wouldn’t argue with Tipper over it.) Keeping the DDT line together is now a must, thanks in part to DeBrincat’s vision.

The Terrifying Lows

Joel Quenneville: We’ve covered several reasons why we’re all starting to get itchy with Quenneville. From the confusion he’s brought on himself about what this team is this year, to the fact that one of his scattershot solutions to a woeful Hawks offensive effort was to put Patrick Sharp on a Top Six line with Schmaltz and Kane, Quenneville’s Jeff Skilling-esque accounting for the Hawks’s poor play has made him look less like the tinkering madman we know and love to poke fun at, and more like a coach born on third with no idea how to transition his younger guys into the NHL properly. But most egregious has been his handling of the defensive pairings. The Forsling–Rutta fiasco. Scratching both Murphy and Kempný in New York. These are the kinds of things that make the FIRE QUENNEVILLE jalopy run, and he’s only got himself to blame for it.

With Forsling retooling in Rockford and Rutta breaking in his press box suit, we may have turned a corner, but that it took this long is an affront. For now, the key will be keeping the lines and pairings as-is and not getting too cute by swapping in spare parts for things that work.

Forsling–Rutta: Thankfully, it looks like this botched experiment is finally over. They were abysmal together against the Islanders, a game in which Rutta was on the ice for seemingly every single goal. After their woeful performance, Forsling got sent down and Rutta got sent up to the press box.

It’s not entirely fair to pin the blame on these two for their poor performances, Forsling in particular. For the second straight year, Forsling’s had to go back to work on his confidence, this time because of mismanagement from Quenneville and supposed Defenseman-Whisperer Ulf Samuelsson. Rutta had a nice run at the beginning of the year, but the Hawks already have a right-handed guy who sort of does the stuff he’s supposed to do in their older, balder, fatter son, Brent Seabrook, so it’s hard to figure out what Rutta does anymore that Murphy, Kempný, or even Oesterle or Gustafsson can’t do better.

The Creamy Middles

Jeff Glass: It doesn’t have to be pretty to work, and giving up two regulation goals against each of the Lightning and Leafs (for a combined 93.9 SV% against 68 regulation shots) is impressive. Since swapping in for Forsberg in New York, he’s managed a 92.2 SV% over 77 shots in regulation, which you’ll take all day from a backup. The rebound control and crease awareness are still a circus, but given the lack of puck luck the Hawks have had this year, I’m not going to discount what we’ve gotten out of him. He’s not a long-term solution, but he’ll do for now.

Erik Gustafsson: In supplanting CONNOR MURPHY as Seabrook’s babysitter, Gustafsson has looked anywhere from good to unnoticeable, which is all you can ask. He came out scorching against the Islanders because we all said he wouldn’t, and since then has been quietly alright, with CF%s of 61+, 43+, and 57+ while riding shotgun with Porkins.

Most interesting is that Gustafsson’s CF%s have been staggeringly higher away from Seabrook than with him: In his four games up, Gustafsson has played with Seabrook for about 54 minutes at 5v5, for a CF% of 46+. He’s been away from Seabrook for about 12 minutes at 5v5 and has a CF% of 65+ in that time. Small sample sizes, but this could tell us that Gustafsson might be a serviceable third-pairing D-man on his own.

Vinnie Hinostroza: Or Kris Versteeg II, if you prefer. Vinnie’s produced a goal and an assist over his last two, and looks right at home with Jurco and Kampf, both of whom have the wheels (and maybe even the vision in Kampf’s case) to keep up. I don’t particularly hate him on the power play either, as long as he stays away from doing the Versteegy things we all grew to hate.

Everything Else

Well, we’ve passed the halfway point of the season, and as the Hawks go into the bye week we can all take a breath following the recent win-loss-win-loss whiplash we’ve been subjected to. The organ-I-zation made a seemingly smart trade (waaat?), and with the deadline approaching and the Hawks very much a team on the cusp, one has to wonder if there is more to come. (On the cusp…I’m being generous. This team just got their ass handed to them by the fucking Red Wings yesterday.) So where are we at before the trade deadline arrives? I’m sure the Hawks brass is eagerly looking to us for the evaluation.

The Dizzying Highs

Nick Schmaltz: I’ve been waiting all season for Schmaltz to earn a spot here in the Highs and the time has come. How many times has one of us here said he was the best player on the ice in a given game? Well, I don’t have an exact count but I assure you it’s happened multiple times. More recently, in the seven games in 2018 he’s had 8 points, including two power play goals against the (admittedly shitty) Senators last week. Yes, Ottawa sucks, but power play goals have become rarer than double-digit temperatures in this frozen hellscape. In fact Schmaltz is second in points on this team, with only Kane above him and duh that’s his linemate so Schmaltz rightly gets some credit there too. In Anisimov’s absence he’s been a very capable center for what has ostensibly become our top line.

Beyond just points, his CF% at evens is 54.5. At times he, Kane and Hartman struggle in their defensive zone, don’t get me wrong. But as a whole their possession at evens is 51.5 CF%. Add to that Schmaltz’s speed, and his current muscular shooting percentage of 18.8, and he’s basically made himself the most valuable youngling along with Top Cat.

The Terrifying Lows

Jan Rutta and the Gustav Foreskin Experience: OK, we’ve been bitching about these two all season but they’re really, really not good. Maybe individually that’s an exaggeration, but as a pair it definitely is not. Their CF% as a duo is 48.2 at evens. Despite having slightly more offensive zone starts than defensive ones (both have a dSZ% at 48 and change), it isn’t nearly enough because they are positively lost in their own zone (kind of a problem when your job description is defense). Larkin’s goal yesterday for the Red Wings was a classic example: both Rutta and Forsling got mesmerized by Nyquist and he was able to calmly drop the puck behind him to to Mantha (not excusing the shitty backcheck, but still, c’mon guys). Yeah, Rutta scored against the Jets the other night, but again, their job description is defense. Every time they’re on the ice it’s nerve-wracking at best and disastrous at worst.

The Creamy Middles

The Penalty Kill: A strong case could be made for putting the PK in the Dizzying Highs. To again reference the games played in this young calendar year, the Hawks have only given up one power play goal in 2018 (seven games). And that goal came against the Rangers right after New Year’s, so it’s been six games and 23 opportunities in which they’ve prevented opponents from capitalizing on special teams. This tells me two things: 1. We are taking way too many penalties, I mean really, 23?? Wtf? and 2. This half of our special teams is one of the only threads we have to cling to in the quickly unraveling sweater that is our playoff hopes. It’s become the mirror image of the shit-stained power play.

Vinnie Hinostroza. I think our boy Vinnie deserves an honorable mention here in the Middles. In the past six games he’s had five points, including a three-point night against the maddeningly successful Golden Knights. His performance in that game was one of the few bright spots of that fuck up. He’s managed to become comfortable on the top line that was searching for someone ever since Richard Panik turned back into Richard Panik, well before the trade happened. He’s only played 14 games with the top club so I can’t really make any sweeping generalizations or bold statements (sample size and all), but the Saad-Toews-Hinostroza combo has a 63.8 CF% at evens, and hey, he’s a local boy who done good! (For the record, I was going to put Jordan Oesterle here, but then he fell into Keith á la the Three Stooges yesterday which allowed the third goal, so no dice.)

All stats from Hockey Reference and the Natural Stat Trick Line Tool.

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Box Score

Hockey Stats

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This is the outcome you expect when you’re playing a team that has scored nine goals since its last regulation win eight games ago. The Oilers, once again, have managed to be a zoo without cages despite having a generational talent in David McConnor, and the Hawks took two points they needed on a drag-ass Sunday afternoon tilt. To the bullets.

– Let’s begin with the past in front: Nick Schmaltz’s game-opening goal is the sort of thing that should give Hawks fans the same sense of anticipation we all felt in the 08–09 season. His read off Rutta’s point shot was obscene, and he made Kris Russell look like the overrated pile of hockey garbage no one in broadcast wants to admit he is. Even better, Schmaltz gave Ryan Nugent-Hopkins every reason to have the long face he has, using him as a screen en route to an embarrassingly beautiful backhand against Cam “(Used to Be a) Cha-Cha” Talbot.

– On the topic of Jan Rutta, he had himself a nice game after a four-game absence. He carried a 56 CF% (and a precisely even 0.00 CF% Rel) and racked up an assist on Schmaltz’s wizardry. But no matter what, there’s absolutely no justification for slotting Rutta in place of Connor Murphy, who, over the past month, has been the best Hawks D-man by just about every metric. I get that Murphy had a rough go of it against Vegas, but unless Murphy were hurt or had the runs, scratching him is absurd.

Going further, I don’t think that Rutta’s good performance was a coincidence. Before his streak of sitting, he had begun to look sluggish and overpowered after several hockey writers, including yours truly, were champing at the bit to anoint him the savior of the Hawks’s blue line. It’s almost as if Rutta needs some extended time off during the season to recharge. There’s another Hawks D-man who probably needs it too, but it isn’t Murphy.

I know that we probably won’t ever see Seabrook as a healthy scratch because of this bullshit LEADERSHIP narrative that’s served as nothing more than justification for Seabrook’s contract, which the organ-I-zation threw at him like a farm boy throws a wedding ring at the girl who took his virginity. But I think that you’ll get better results letting Rutta slot in for Seabrook over Murphy or Kempný (who had a 59 CF% today). Both Rutta and Seabrook are right-handed shots who have shown signs of exhaustion throughout the season, and what would be a better example of leadership for Bottomless Pete than admitting that you don’t have the energy to play 82 games a year and give other, more physically fit players a slot to play? Fantasies, I know.

– Back in reality, there’s no doubt that Cam Talbot sucks. DeBrincat’s goal had no business ending up in the back of the net, since all Top Cat wanted to do was try to center Sharp. Nonetheless, credit where it’s due, as David Struggle had no trouble shrugging off a checking attempt from EA Sports–generated name Matt Benning behind the goal line to feed Top Cat. Kampf has looked pretty alright in his six games up, and he’s made that third line work somehow, as he, Top Cat, and Sharp had respective CF%s of 57+,61+, and 64+ today. It doesn’t have to make sense for you to take it.

– We got a taste of vintage Toews on the Hawks’s third goal. After Vinnie Hinostroza horsed Darnell Intern, both by skating by him and dropping a beauty of a backhand pass to Toews, Toews did that thing that makes me hope they retire his number with a “C” someday where he overpowers a defender and makes a one-handed pass to a drooling Brandon Saad. While one play does not a season make, it was nice to see Toews see a result for all the strong underlying numbers he’s had this year.

– Saad had a goal and 60 CF% at evens, but the eye test was a bit more mixed. He got pantsed by McDavid in the first and Draisaitl in the third, and he knuckle-pucked a nice pass from Vinnie in a high-danger zone in the third. Not to say that Saad isn’t a brute force, but today looked a little less godlike than I’m used to. I get he was up against the McDavid line, but he looked a bit more janky than normal.

– Gustav Forsling had a 61+ CF% at evens spending almost two-thirds of his time in the offensive zone. IT’S ALMOST AS IF THAT’S WHERE HE BELONGS.

– Aside from the weak Nurse goal, Forsberg looked good today. His rebound control is a much needed salve after watching Good Story Glass Jeff bounce biscuits off his pads for far, far longer than is acceptable for a team looking to vault into a wild card spot. Still, without Crawford, this team is going to run in place.

– I’m glad Eddie O. is healthy enough to do games again, but the way he toed the company line today made me look forward to Konroyd’s opium-den droning in Ottawa on Tuesday. Between blowing kisses at StanBo for signing Bouma and Wingels while the Hawks sit in last place in the division, lauding Seabrook for tapping on Forsberg’s pads after a bad goal, and chiding Kempný for an aggressive pinch in the second period (despite the fact that that’s what Kempný is good at doing), it almost made me miss Konroyd at home. I’m getting awfully tired of this SEABROOK IS A LEADER justification for his shit performance, and Eddie O. is the prime evangelist.

Oh, Jordan Oesterle had an unassisted goal today. To piggyback off this feat, the mantra of the upcoming week of hockey can only be KEEP FIRING, ASSHOLES!

Beer du Jour: Two Hearted

Line of the Night: “I love that play from Brent Seabrook.” –Eddie O. commenting on Brent Seabrook tapping Anton Forsberg’s pads after a soft goal, which is neither a play nor a way to justify Seabrook’s piss-poor performance anymore. It’s 2018, not 2013.

Everything Else


RECORDS: Oilers 18-21-3    Hawks 19-15-6



ED-WOOD-TON: OilersNation.com

I don’t know who sanctioned a 2pm start, but they’re going to pay. Neither of these teams wants to be out during daylight hours right now. Hell, neither probably wants to be in public. Two teams that had designs on being a lot higher in the standings than they are will make it a lunch today on Madison St. Considering how things have gone for each team recently, a loss today is going to feel closer to terminal than it probably should. Though for the Oilers, it very well might be.

We’ll start with the Oilers, who have had maybe the biggest balls-up of a season this side of the Penguins. Since we last saw them last Friday, they’ve lost to the Jets, Kings, and Stars by a combined score of 15-1, while sneaking in a shootout victory over the Ducks in there. They’re below .500, miles out of a playoff spot, and really looking at the guillotine on this season very soon. They may even already be sellers, or should be, if you could find anyone on an expiring contract that anyone would want. The Chiarelli Panic Trade Countdown is getting awfully low.

It’s not hard to identify where things have gone wrong. One, Cam Talbot just plainly hasn’t been very good, and he’s been especially woeful on the penalty kill. That’s fed into their historically bad PK, which the power play isn’t making up for, and you can’t win games if you have to win at even-strength by two or three goals. It’s not all on Talbot for the penalty kill, however. The Oilers have the worst xGA/60 on the kill of anyone in the league and it isn’t even close. It’s over two goals worse per 60 than the team in 30th. That’s the same gap between 30th and 22nd. They just give up way too many good looks on the kill, and Talbot would have to perform miracles (MIRACLES!) to get through. He’s been quite the opposite, and hence you have this kindergarten recess.

On top of that, the Oilers just don’t have the finish to make their still-exemplary metrics count, as strange as that sounds. Yes, with Draisaitl now playing in the middle they might have the best center-depth in the West. Certainly in the Pacific. And yet with no wingers that you’d piss on if they were on fire, other than maybe Puljujarvi, it’s almost rendered useless. Run CMD can spin all the golden yarn he wants but if he’s waiting five seconds for Milan Lucic to catch up, who the fuck cares? This is a team where a suspension of Pat Maroon actually matters. You don’t want to be that team. Peter Kriss doesn’t even want to be that team.

All this has masked the fact that the defense has actually improved, though still isn’t Final-contender worthy which is where the Oilers had their eyes set before the year. Darnell Nurse has ascended to the top pairing, and you could get away with Adam Larsson there too if you had a really solid second pairing. Andrej Sekera and Matt Benning do not that pair make. Kris Russell is still watching the puck all the time on the third with KLEFBOM KLEFBOM YOU’RE MY KLEFBOM.

For the Hawks, Anton Forsberg will put a pause on the Glass Jeff Experience for a day, and the Hawks really need him to resign that to a footnote on this season. Forsberg has had his moments both ways, but he needs to grab the brass ring with Corey Crawford still in the land of wind and ghosts. There was no other word on lineup changes today, but you could see Jan Rutta come back in because he isn’t doing anyone any good in the pressbox. Then again, that’s the story for Michal Kempny and you know how that goes.

The Stars got their ass rubbed in the moonshine yesterday in Dallas, and Cam And Magic Talbot was pulled early in the 2nd. Whether he turns around or Chicago Rat Hockey Ragdoll Al Montoya gets the start, the Hawks are playing a severely wounded and shaken team here. The Oilers are basically looking for an excuse to down tools, and the Hawks have basically run out of time to get their ass in gear. The game against the Rangers would see this outfit off. A start like Friday’s will give them life. So the choice is simple.


Game #41 Preview




Douchebag Du Jour

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Lineups & How Teams Were Built

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Box Score


Natural Stat Trick

They needed two points tonight, and it certainly didn’t come easy but hey, it came. To the bullets:

– Through two periods the Panthers were beating the Hawks in nearly every measurement — shots, scoring chances, CF%, high-danger chances, faceoff percentage, you name it — except, of course, for the one that counts. Despite looking like gerbils on meth, the Hawks managed to only give up one goal in the second, largely thanks to…c’mon, you know who it’ll be…Corey Crawford. Up until the third, one dominant shift by the top line had been enough to at least keep it tied, until Keith got caught up with ‘ole Wide Dick’s package, and Trocheck and McGinn were able to get by them and score. It was certainly frustrating, but given how the Hawks had been playing, it wasn’t exactly surprising.

– But then, the top line! In the first period, they had said dominant shift that gave the Hawks the lead (and probably contributed to the coasting for a while), but let’s look at that: Top Cat was working behind the net, and all three of them were digging pucks out of the boards and keeping continual pressure, until Saad was able to bury a quick shot from the top of the crease. It was exactly the type of shift they need to have consistently — and until mid-way through the third it looked like that one shift might have been the only one they had in them. Their possession numbers were better than decent all night, but no other finish. Fortunately they pulled their shit together when it was needed and Toews tied the game in the third.

– Jan Rutta got his head dented in during the second period and left the game. I’m not happy about this, and I will not celebrate someone’s injury, even if he has been kinda sucking lately. What’s more interesting is 1. Will this finally lead Q to #FreeKempny? Will he be forced to? One would think so, and 2. How will any resulting reshuffle affect the defense? Franson skated in practice today, so it’s possible that Q hates Kempny so much that he’ll put an injured and aging bag of crap in instead of him. Barring that, would Kempny pair with Forsling? Or would Murphy move up to be paired with Keith and Oesterle moves elsewhere? Stay tuned.

– Speaking of  Connor Murphy, he basically saved a goal with a smooth sweep of the puck out of the net before the refs saw him do it. It takes a village.

The Hawks needed to take all six points available in these last three games, and they pulled it out of their ass. This is their first three-game win streak this year, which is good news and yet sad that it took this long, right? Next up is Winnipeg, which stumbled a little recently but beat the crap out of Vancouver last night, so they may have their mojo back. I don’t know if I’d count on any momentum, but maybe some faith that they can polish a turd when necessary? Onward and upward.

Line of the Night: “This Blackhawks power play has been a buzzkill for the last couple games.” —Pat Foley, in the world’s greatest understatement

Beer de jour: Fistmas by Revolution, because holiday-themed beers are only acceptable in the month of December


Everything Else


Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
He Could Really Make It If He Just Got His Shit Together: The Royal Half, JFTC

As the Freakout Hell Bus Ride of 5 games in 7 nights comes to a close on West Madison tonight, the Hawks are looking to avoid losing their fourth straight game after having gone 1-1-2 so far, with the resurgent Kings now waiting for them as the capper.