Hockey

Since about 30 seconds into Game 1 of the season where it became glaringly obvious that this year’s Hawks team would not be competing for jack shit, this week arguably became the most important stretch of games of the year in the leadup to the trade deadline. Particularly now with a new GM steering the ship, it might have ended up being an indicator of GM Kyle’s mid and long term vision for the club. But overall, with a few wrinkles here and there, things shook out about how they could have been predicted, with the Hawks recouping some assets and also looking like shit on the ice.

3/15 – Bruins 2, Hawks 1 (OT)

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The Hawks were pretty well fucked from Jump St. in this one with the Bruins being the best team defensive team in the league by a lot of metrics while having almost no finish to speak of aside from two guys on the roster. Marc-Andre Fleury was at his acrobatic best throughout the game and was literally the only reason this game was not a complete dong-whipping. He made every kind of vintage save you could as of anyone, let alone a 36 year old with the mileage he has on him. In an ideal world he would have been traded at the second intermission when his value was at its absolute peak, but there were clearly other factors at play. The Hawks managed to get this one to OT, where the fun predictably ended quickly.

3/19 – Wild 3, Hawks 1

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A matinee played in St. Paul in the immediate aftermath of the Brandon Hagel trade saw the Hawks put forth a half assed effort at best, even by day hockey standards which this outlet is on record many times over as being an affront to the lord. Kevin Lankinen got the start on the front end of a back to back and is still somehow struggling with rebound control somehow, but made enough saves to keep it close until the very end, where the erstwhile LOCAL GUY Ryan Hartman put the Wild ahead. Toews’ comments after the trade were frankly those of a crybaby, complaining about someone being traded. As a long time captain in this league having seen guys get moved over and over and over again for cap purposes, having Brandon goddamn Hagel of all people be the one where he opines openly about his GM’s choices is certainly curious, especially without having done a goddamn thing in the post season in going on 7 years now. Sorry Jon, but you don’t have a leg to stand on whatsoever with regard to who stays and who goes. And clearly the team let this pouty piss pants attitude cascade down through the roster from their captain.

3/20 – Jets 6, Hawks 4

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Regardless of who had the final say in it between Kyle Davidson or Derek King, the decision to start Marc Andre Fleury in a game less than 24 hours before the trade deadline was curious at best, and professionally negligent at worst. On top of it being a back and forth game where neither team was interested in playing much defense and Fleury and fellow Vezina winner Connor Hellebucyk were hung out to dry early and often, the situation became that much more harrowing during a sequence wherein Fluery lost is glove, and still instinctually tried to make a save with that hand during a scramble in front of the Hawk net. Mercifully the result was merely a goal against and not a hand shattered into dust rendering the netminder untradeable, or worse at the end of his career. The Hawks would claw their way back with the help of a solid game from newcomer Taylor Raddysh (with a Y), and at least there was a little bit more jump to their game after going down after apparently getting their tantrum game out of the way the previous afternoon. But after all of that, the result was still the same, and the Hawks are now left to play out the string in what will surely be outstanding performances from Kevin Lankinen, Colin Delia, and Arvid Soderblom.

TRADE REACTIONS

  • First on the docket is arguably the most valuable chip the Hawks had in Brandon Hagel, with his cost controlled $1.5 million against the cap for two years following the end of this season, and will likely flirt with 30 goals by this year’s end. While yes, Hagel has been a fun middle six forward who plays with physicality and has a bit of a goal scorer’s touch, given the distance between what the Hawks are against teams with actual aspirations like the Bruins (where Hagel played and scored the Hawks’ lone goal), even the most optimistic projections would have the Hawks ready to take a step right as Hagel would be due a substantial increase in pay. Not to mention, with no disrespect to Hagel or any players of his ilk, but there should be at least two guys with the potential to be this in every team’s system. Andrew Shaw was this until it was time to pay him significantly, when the Hawks correctly identified that Ryan Hartman could fill that role. So the Hawks got about as good a return as one could have been asked for Hagel in two middle-to-bottom six forwards who can play right now as well as two first rounders, albeit delated and will assuredly be late in the round because they’re Tampa’s. And the fact that the trade pissed off some aforementioned players on the roster only reaffirmed that it was the right thing to do.
  • While the Marc-Andre Fleury trade seemed inevitable from the moment he actually decided he wanted to play for this calamity of an organization, it took til basically the last minute to get there for a variety of reasons. With having a full no move on top of uprooting his family here mere months ago, it extremely hamstrung Davidson’s options, and having a shit defense in front of him deflating his Vezina numbers from last year certainly didn’t help things. The Hawks eating half the salary for the remainder of the year is immaterial, but one can’t help but wonder if they could have gotten a true first round pick instead of just a condititional one had they pulled the trigger sooner and not exposed Fleury to a potent forward group and potential injury one last time before getting shipped out.
  • Ryan Carpenter was moved along to Calgary for a 5th rounder, and if there was ever a match made in hockey shot suppression hell, it’s Ryan Carpenter and Darryl Sutter. With Brad Treveling taking one of Sutter’s toys away in waiving Brad Richardson, he promptly gave him a younger version in the form of Carpetner who is a reliable worker who won’t let anyone down on the PK or the dot, and should never, ever be asked to be on the first PP unit ever again. Having a a solid bottom 6 versatile forward is a complete luxury that bad teams don’t need, like a closer on a shit baseball team, or a huge LCD infotainment screen in a run down 1988 powder blue Ford Taurus. So getting a fifth round pick is just fine for moving Carpenter along.
  • Calvin de Haan stayed put, because that’s just generally what he does these days, and there more than likely wasn’t a market for him even if it would have been at half price. Erik Gustafsson also had no takers, which just makes the fact that he was ever brought in here to take minutes away from any of the kids on the blue line even more short sightedly stupid from the previous regime.
Hockey

There is literally nowhere for this team to go but up after the worst week in this franchise’s long history of bad weeks, both on and off the ice. The Hawks extended their own streak in futility to start the season, came away with one point out of a possible six, and looked like disinterested shit while doing so. It all pales in comparison to the shockwaves still echoing across the league today for their arguable criminal negligence 11 years ago, but either way the games on the schedule still have to be played. Not that this standard is going to be adhered to, at this time in 2018 when the now disgraced Joel Quenneville was launched and the team was supposed to be competitive (as this one was to be), he was fired after 15 points in 15 games. With two points in 9 games so far, it is now not possible for Jeremy Trestman to even meet that meager threshold, but given the circumstances around the team, it remains unlikely he’ll be fired any time soon. Even at that point, the next choice on the bench to step in is Marc Crawford, who was the first head coach Quenneville served under, and was suspended himself for physical abuse of players. Around every every corner there seems to be a new and fresh pile of shit to step in, but perhaps most impressive is that in just a month, the Hawks have seemingly managed to absolutely crush the spirit of one of the league’s smiling faces for a generation in Marc-Andre Fleury, while basically playing themselves into a wasted season in the blink of an eye. If the Hawks new GM Kyle something or other has any humanity, he’ll get Flower the fuck out of here at the earliest possible convenience.

11/1 – vs Ottawa

Game Time – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-720
Lance And Blake (One Son) – Silver Seven Sens

Perhaps the Hawks’ best chance to grab a victory comes tonight against the visiting Senators, though that’s not to say that it’s going to be in any way easy, as absolutely nothing about this team can be taken as a given at this point. The Sens are coming off a victory in Dallas, having last played on Friday, so they got to spend their Halloween here in the city. That marked the Senators first road win and second against the Stars so far this season, and to this point they’ve been fairly competitive. They’re obviously an incredibly young team that’s still figuring things out with all of the hallmarks – good power play, bad on the road, and needing excellent goaltending to prop it all up, which they’ve gotten from Matt Murray and Filip Gustavsson, but former Hawk legend Anton Forsberg has been another story. So far the younger of the Garbage Tkachuk Sons has yet to hit his stride after missing camp and the first three games of the year with his contract dispute, but he’ll likely round into form soon. Likewise Tim Stutzle has been slow out of the gates after showing plenty of flash in last year’s abbreviated campaign. The Senators have gotten contrtibutions elsewhere up front for the time being in Drake Batherson and Josh Norris, but they’ll need their marquee guys to step it up, along with getting the play driven from the back end by Thomas Chabot in order to hang around for longer than just a month before their inevitable descent into the oblivion that is Kanata.

 

11/3 – vs Carolina

Game Time – 7:30PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago+, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Larry Johnson’s Grandmama – Canes Country

The Hurricanes are now 8-0-0, with all eight wins coming in regulation. They will also have had two full days off coming into Wednesday night’s game, having played most recently on Sunday afternoon. This probably goes just about as well at Club 1901 as it did in Raleigh.

11/5 – at Winnipeg

Game Time – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Leave Them At “The Airport” – Arctic Ice Hockey, Jets Nation

So Kevin Chevyldayoff gets to keep his job despite the fact he was in the meeting where all of Hawks upper management effectively conspired to keep Kyle Beach’s claims swept under the rug because he was the only person who placed himself there, but still didn’t manage to do anything about it? This is why hockey culture is perversely fucked and needs to be burnt to the ground for any real improvements to be made. Anyway, on the ice, the Jets are the same mess they’ve been for what feels like 12 years now. The forward group is extremely solid top to bottom even if Blake Wheeler is somehow like 58 years old now, the blue line is a complete gas can in its own end, and Connor Hellebuyck needs to be in top form for them to have a chance. To this point he hasn’t been, with an .899 overall, but that’s been absolutely obliterated by the Jets’ horse shit PK, which is only operating at 63% right now, good for 31st in the league. Of the 24 goals Hellebuyck has allowed, a staggering ELEVEN have come on the power play, and his even strength save percentage is a fully respectable and sustainable (for him) .935. Good thing for them that Paul Maurice teams are known for staying out of the box.

11/7 – vs Nashville

Game Time – 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio –NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-AM 720
It’s Just Fucking Everywhere Isn’t It? – On The Forecheck

Every year it seems like it might finally be the one where Nashville finally has the bottom fall out of it, and every year they seem to still make the playoffs by the hair on their ass. Of course, they won’t get to play a full 12% of their games against this stupid ass Hawks team like they did last year and took 15 of 16 possible points. Nearly 25% of their points came from games against the Hawks last year, and it’s not exactly like John Hynes has a throbbing brain in that big bald head of his. It literally just takes a single counter-measure to make Vinny Del Colliton look like a completely clueless asshole. Roman Josi is once again leading this team in scoring with 9 points in 8 games from the back end because that’s how this whole thing has to work with Filip Forsberg the only real threat offensively because Ryan Johansen is too busy chugging root beers. Juuse Saros has been solid at evens with a .931, but only has a .917 overall thanks to early season PK issues in Nashville as well, though clearly not to the extent of the Jets. He’ll have to be excellent for them to even stay on the fringes of the wild card situation even with as shitty as the Pacific is, if only because there’s simply almost no firepower up front.

Hockey

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Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet, NHL Network, WGN-AM 720
Winnipeg Nights: Arctic Ice Hockey, Jets Nation

Similar to The Gambler’s Fallacy (of being “due”), when a team is mediocre-to-bad, nearly every game represents the potential for turning things around. The periphery of the playoff picture in the NHL is the very definition of the bare minimum of competence as far as sports are concerned, and the Hawks have once again put together a handful of wins against a cornucopia of teams somehow even worse than they are, and one win last night against a supposed contender, albeit one whose number they seem to have and has a blue line beset by injuries. So naturally that sets them up for a divisional matchup against the visiting Jets tonight where they could creep even closer to a wild card spot in the proverbial four-point game, the type of game they have found stunningly impressive ways to shit themselves in under Coach Cool Youth Pastor in the past season and a half.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Connecting Flights: Arctic Ice HockeyJets Nation

After getting their asses shellacked by a Vegas team that doesn’t even really have its shit together relative to how they played last year, the Hawks leave the frozen tundra of Chicago for…the frozen tundra of Winnipeg to face a Jets team with legit cup aspirations this year.

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Frosty Peters: Jets NationArctic Ice Hockey

After splitting a home-and-home with a decent if injury-depleted Bruins team, the Hawks take another step towards ending this miserable ass season tonight in Winnipeg, where they’ll face a Jets team that might have finally gotten its shit together, but probably hasn’t.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Wanker County: Arctic Ice Hockey, Jets Nation

The second game of the Hawks’ six game homestand that spans their by week takes place tonight, with the seemingly-not-going-away first place Winnipeg Jets paying a visit to Club 1901, and it seems that the Jets might have actually gotten their shit together.

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
God Save The Queen: Arctic Ice Hockey, Jets Nation

Fresh off three somewhat palate-cleansing barely-wins against the absolute dregs of the league at home in Buffalo, Arizona, and Florida, the Hawks face a far sterner test tonight in The Peg, where the Jets at least kind of look like they have finally gotten their shit together.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 7:30PM
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Fireman Ed’s Cousin Gord: Illegal Curve

In what was a tradition unlike any other, the Hawks for seemingly eons played a home game on West Madison on Boxing Day, and even during the Stone Ages the building was more packed than usual. The league in its wisdom has opted to extend the holiday break, pushing the return to action to the 27th, and even giving the Hawks a road game or two in recent years on the date. But tonight will be as close to the Boxing Day games of yore as the league will allow, and the Hawks will be welcoming the Jets to the UC once again already.