The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
The Hawks are officially dead and I guess this is the baseball preview episode? Either way, we thank you for your continued support.
I was hoping for at least one Hawks win this weekend, but that became too much to ask when the team flubbed it against the Blue Jackets Thursday night. Once again a lack of offense, a powerplay sucking at loud, and Patrick Kane not giving a shit in February did the Hawks in. Recap time, I guess.
Hawks 4, Blue Jackets 7
Natural Stat Trick
On the front end of a back-to-back and with the Blue Jackets being one of the more terrible teams in the league, it was time for Fleury to take a seat in favor of young goaltender Arvid Soderblom. He was able to stop an onslaught of chances from the Jackets in the first seven minutes of the game, but unfortunately he showed his greenness when he gave up a goal on a rebound thanks to a Blue Jackets powerplay opportunity. And then a second goal just seconds later (shoutout to the horrific Erik Gustafsson giveaway that could’ve been prevented). He gave up five more goals, including a Patrik Laine hat trick, before the game was over. A flurry of them were his own fault, though many were the result of the Hawks being incredibly lazy when it came to defending their own zone.
The Hawks got goals from Philipp Kurashev, Ryan Carpenter, Mackenzie Entwhistle, and The Cat (most offensive-minded players were taking the night off). But the real story that came from this game is what the future of the goaltending for this team should be. No way Fleury stays, and it’s become incredibly clear the Hawks can’t trot out Lankinen and Soderblom or whoever as the starters next year. (Lankinen’s contract ends this season anyway.) You’d think they’d be on the market for a goaltender, but then you look at the 2022 free agents available and…well, ah jeez.
Blackhawks 0, Stars 1 (Stars Win Absolute Snoozefest)
Natural Stat Trick
The morning of this game, the Hawks announced a flurry of roster moves. Fearless leader Jonathan Toews, although spotted Friday morning at the optional practice and on the ice, was placed on IR retroactive to his head injury on Jan. 26 and The Only Sure-Fire Prospect in the Entire Organization Lukas Reichel was called up yet again for the Hawks and placed right on the top line with Kane and Hagel.
Reichel’s game wasn’t terrible for his 3rd NHL game; he was hustling, winning board battles and generating chances in the 1st period before getting rocked over the visiting boards and getting himself stripped of the puck by Alex Radulov of all people in the 2nd. The Hawks had a surprisingly high CF% in the 1st period at over 70%, and Kane’s give-a-shit meter even seemed to be up higher than usual for the entire 1st period before things seemed to drop off for him. The Cat’s defensive skills were also great to see, as he kept pucks in and set up plays for Strome and Kubalik.
Unfortunately, none of these chances ended up in any goals scored, which is more of the usual for this team despite the “burst” of offense we saw from them the night before. And even though they had some good chances at the end of the game, the Hawks don’t have any finishing power and were lucky to pick up a point at all. It was mostly because of the heroics from Fleury in net—what else is new?
After an entertaining overtime and six rounds of a shootout, Jason Peterson won it for the Stars, despite Fleury doing all he could to drag this team to a win. Maybe you shouldn’t choose Jake McCabe in a shootout situation? Just a thought.
Hawks 2, Panthers 5
Natural Stat Trick
Despite starting out horrifically with Kirby Dach allowing a Panthers breakaway seconds into the game because he didn’t have his stick on the ice, the 1st period saw the Hawks outshoot and out-posses the Panthers 8-3 and 66%-33%. Although the Panthers struck first on only their 3rd shot of the game thanks in part to Patrick Kane not feeling like playing defense, Kane decided to make up for it with just a few seconds left in the period by scoring from below the goal line, the puck bouncing off the back of Sergei Bobrovksy and into the back of the net.
The Panthers must’ve gotten absolutely and rightfully berated during the 1st intermission, because the 2nd period was much more what we expected out of both the Hawks and the Panthers. With the Panthers dominating the possession game, they were able to take the lead thanks to a shot from the blueline in which Fleury was screened by both Seth Jones and Calvin de Haan together. Sam Lafferty had a similarly Laff-able period, filled with multiple turnovers and a missed shot on a wide-open net.
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to get their commanding 3-1 lead thanks in part once again to Dach tipping the puck in past Fleury with his own stick. (This will certainly be a game Dach will want to forget as much as we will.) Fleury made as many saves as he could in the 3rd to keep the Hawks in it, and he had some help from a coach’s challenge to keep it 3-1 in the 3rd, and a surprise goal from Amy’s Youngest made the game seem close for a minute or so. But then two empty-net goals at the end of the period cemented the Hawks’ fate. This outcome is about what we expected, especially considering the Panthers are the NHL’s top offensive team and the Hawks are…well, basement-tier.
My parting words for the weekend? Fuck Radko Gudas.
A new era is upon us for The Beloved, and the Hawks keep trying to figure out if their new era is ever going to get here. We thank you for your continued patronage.
Another in a long line of absolutely insipid Bears press conferences in our collective lifetimes, but at least we all got what we wanted.
Jumping back in after 2 weeks of the most recent covid layoff was always going look less than organized for basically any team, let alone one that has had as many issues (on the ice) as the Hawks have to this point in the season. Exacerbating things was having to jump back into the mix against three real(ish) teams, and not having their top two goalies available for first two of this stretch thanks to protocols. Things went about as could have been predicted.
1/1 – Preds 6, Hawks 1
Natural Stat Trick
With both Marc-Andre Fleury and Kevin Lankinen still in protocol to start 2022, Derek King turned his bespectacled gaze towards Collin Delia and Arvid Soderblom to try to get the Hawks through the first two games of the year, and Delia once again proved why he is not in the NHL with any consistency. In a move reminiscent of The Jeremy Prinze Jr. era, the Hawks allowed goals in the first minute of each of the three periods, including a nice 2-for-1 as the Preds also scored in the waning seconds of the first. Delia allowed two goals about 15 minutes of game time before he had made two saves, and gave way to 12 year old Arvid Soderblom in the second. The kid fared no better right off the bat, but he was put in an impossible position. The Hawks dominated territorially in this game, but even a dope like John Hynes is smart enough to recognize that this particular opponent has no scoring punch and is currently unable to stop a damn thing at the other end, so he allowed his troops to merely hang back in the neutral zone for basically the entire game.
1/2 – Flames 5, Hawks 1
Natural Stat Trick
A quick turn around saw the Hawks hosting the Flames on West Madison, who got a bonus off day themselves missing a date in Winnipeg on their way here. That resulted in Soderblom getting the crease once again, this time in his first NHL start. Overall the kid hung as tough as he could, and the Hawks themselves managed to keep the first period fairly low event for him with only six shots on net in the frame, with the elder of the Garbage Tkachuk Sons scoring in traffic shortly after DeBrincat gave the Hawks a brief lead. But the middle part of the 2nd period saw the Hawks rapidly surrender a ton of attemps on successive shifts, and then turned around and gave the Flames 3 quick power plays and that was about it. The score actually could have been worse than this, as Dillon Dube was stopped on a penalty shot in the middle of the third, but Soderblom tracked Dube nicely as he tried to cut across the slot and get the kid to open up and commit one way or another.
1/4 – Avs 3, Hawks 3 (Avs Win 3v3 Clown Show)
Natural Stat Trick
And now to the game that actually became interesting in spite of itself. Marc-Andre Fleury returned just in time to face one of the most potent offenses in the league, having come in to last night’s game putting up some comical numbers over the past month or so, give or take a plague stoppage. And that looked to be the case again last night as the Avs forced Fleury into acrobatics right from the start of things, and jumping out to a 2-0 lead while never really getting out of 2nd gear. But give credit to whatever message was delivered in the room by King and Crawford, because the Hawks pretty thoroughly outplayed the Avs in both the second and third periods, the second in particular where the Hawks nearly doubled the Avs in attempts. There was most certainly an element of the Avs playing with their food a bit throughout much of the middle portion of this game, which long-time observers may remember the vibe of. But after DeBrincat’s second of the night to put the Hawks ahead 3-2, the Avalanche definitely woke up a bit and eventually broke through to force the game to OT. And then of course Cale Makar did what he did and everyone saw it. At a certain point it’s just impossible to be mad at something like that.
A couple of points here regarding the Avs game:
- Whatever has been constituting the bottom pairing of late, whether it’s Gustafsson, Jones, Stillman or some combination thereof, has been verging on grotesque. Last night in particular, with Amy’s Youngest and The Garbage Stillman Son tasked with 3rd pairing duties, one shift saw them taking turns chasing below the offensive goal line. Ordinarily that’s offensive enough coming from a third pairing, but given the situation of a 1 goal game in the second period in January against possibly the best quick strike team in the league, it just screams stupidity on both of their parts. This is of course to say nothing of Jones skating across the ice to out by the blue line (not on his side) to chase a puck carrier, which left his partner alone for a down low 3-on-1 which resulted in Newhook scoring. How can Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin possibly be any worse than this, especially with how they were both touted less than a year ago. It speaks to their either being no plan or an organizational inability to even sort of develop a defenseman. Or both.
- There was no bigger microcosm yet of the company line here of Kirby Dach being unworthy of the “Foundational Piece” label that the Organ-I-Zation has slapped on him for a couple years then in the waning minutes of the third and then on the game winning play from Makar. Dach was leading a (potential) 2 on 1 rush down the right wing when a streaking Nathan MacKinnon burst into the play from off screen and backchecked the puck off Dach’s stick and the play into nothing. And then of course he was the victim of Makar putting him in the blender and hitting the “liquify” button before roofing MAF in tight. And that’s just the thing, THAT’s what foundational pieces look like. That’s how the jump off the screen. And whether Dach’s “development” has been somewhat derailed by covid and injuries, 110 or so games is still enough to know it when you see it. There’s a number 3 overall pick at center on this very team who showed right away scoring a highlight reel goal in his first game on his first shot, and 110 games in was already doing literally everything for the team he was on. That’s the standard the team themselves have been holding Dach to, they’ve said as much in word and deed, going so far as to even give his brother the David Toews treatment and drafting the kid out of courtesy. And there’s just nothing there.
Again, it’s likely he’ll have a solid NHL career and make a very decent living for himself for years. But as far as being what the Hawks have needed him to be in the rapidly approaching AFTERMATH, there’s been zero evidence that that’s what’s coming.
Offensive frustration is building in multiple places around town. Thank you for your continued patronage.
Well, The Beloved embarassed themselves yet again for seemingly the millionth time in our collective lifetime today, and to what end no one is clear on. Also, wither Kirby Dach?
Well, hockey is into its final four, and we break down HOW THIS AFFECTS THE HAWKS, among other things. Please give a listen.