Everything Else

Jack Eichel wouldn’t be the first to watch the aura of Buffalo simply sap any knowledge of his existence from the Earth. Really only Dominik Hasek has been able to make a name for himself there, and he had to flee to Detroit to actually win something. Did you know James Lofton actually played football instead of just talked about it? Remember Andre Reed? Of course you don’t 13,000 yards receiving before it was cool. We bet  you think LeSean McCoy died after his days as an Eagle. Nope, He plays in Buffalo. We know, right?

Eichel has suffered because of some things out of his control. One, it’s hot his fault his main contemporary, Connor McDavid, has a Hart Trophy already, made the second round of the playoffs, and has turned various family size cans of tuna like Patrick Maroon or Milan Lucic into useful things for at least a little while. Eichel can’t help that the defense behind him has always been the remedial clown college. It’s not Eichel’s fault the goaltending has been at best up-and-down, and at times looked like a collection of newborn gorillas.

You may not know this, but Eichel’s career 0.84 PPG mark for his first three years at ages 19-21 ranks him comfortably along Tavares, Hall, Toews, and Kopitar at the same ages. And in all their cases aside from Toews basically, they were each playing with trash.

But that’s the thing with Eichel. He hasn’t exactly played with trash.

Last year he mostly skated with Sam Reinhart, who while still young is hardly inept. This year it was Evander Kane, and while we might want to see him come up close and personal with a flame-thrower he’s a talented player, and Jason Pominville, who admittedly at this point in his career is dust and bones. His rookie year saw him mostly with Kane as well. Again, these aren’t world-beaters, but they’re better than Maroon or Lucic.

And what’s a touch worrying is that these players don’t seem to get better with Eichel. Kane’s, before the trade, and Pominville’s metrics stay about the same whether they’re playing with Eichel or not. But Eichel’s go down measurably. It was the same last year.

What may be frustrating Sabres fans just a touch is that given his pedigree, it feels like there should be a touch more from him. Quite simply in the past ten years, no college freshman has come close to Eichel’s 71 points at BU, except for Kyle Connor at Michigan. Connor potted his 25th goals against the Hawks on Thursday, a total that Eichel has yet to see. Though given injuries, he probably would have. Again, he’s not been bad, but it’s fair to question if there shouldn’t be more. Also considering he’s already gotten a coach fired.

On the plus side, Eichel’s possession rates have improved every year relative to his team, though even that comes with the caveat that he’s had to have his zone starts really sheltered this year. He starts over 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone for a team that doesn’t get there very often. A true #1 should be able to start anywhere, you’d hope.

Eichel still promises the moon, and maybe given different winger who set him up more than he’s had he’ll truly take off. He’s definitely a shoot-first guy and hasn’t really had a playmaker with him. The Sabres aren’t going anywhere until that happens.


Game #72 Preview




Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else


Game Time: 11:30AM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Makes No Sense At All: Hockey Wilderness

Late season, weekend matinee games suck out loud regardless of the two teams involved. The thought process behind having them is clear, with both college and pro football shuttered for their respective seasons, and baseball yet to move north from Arizona and Florida, there is a void that can be filled by the Winter Tenants for viewership when there’s really only Law & Order: SVU reruns on elsewhere. But the vast majority of hockey games are played at night, and professional hockey players, like all athletes, enjoy their ya-ha time after a game and generally keep later hours. There is always at least a 24 hour break going into them so it’s not totally cutting into physical recuperation the way Thursday Night Football does, but circadian rhythms are still fucked with, and now past the deadline there are many teams who are just playing out the string. Couple that with the overall quality of the league due to a flat salary cap, and it’s left an absolute dogshit product on the ice on par with Thursday Night Football by any absolute or relative measure. And on top of that Daylight Savings just kicked in, so now two teams who at least on paper who are still jockeying for the top spot in the Central and the West, are effectively facing off at 10:30AM local time, all for the sake of courting viewers that the NHL is never going to grab. Nice work everyone.

Everything Else

Hawk Wrestler  vs.  Zakk-Wylde-by-Ivan-Chopik

FACEOFF: 8:30pm Central
CSN, NBCSN, CBC for you hosers, WIND 560am
Hockey Wilderness

Tonight for the first time we get to see how the Hawks bounce back from a loss in the playoffs. Whether it was tactics or effort or discipline, the Hawks get a chance to correct it tonight and for all intents and purposes end this series. Because it’s highly likely that if the Hawks take a 3-1 lead back to Fort Kickass on Madison on Thursday, that will be that.

Everything Else

wildthings vs AltLogo

Game Time: 7:00PM Central
Somebody To Shove: Hockey Wilderness

And so it begins. Since Patrick Kane announced the Hawks’ presence to the defending champ Kings on a Saturday afternoon on January 19th, this is the date that Hawks fans have waited patiently for. It’s time for this collection on the ice to prove it’s not the first-round-out it has been the last two seasons, nor is it a hollow collection of records accumulated during an asterisk of a regular season.