Well, at least the Witching Hour of the trade deadline drawing nearer feels to have a bit of purpose with Kyle Davidson permanently installed as the General Manager with his interim tag lifted. And now he’ll get the opportunity to really show what his vision for this team is, and he quickly did so by jettisoning part of the pro scouting department, which always seemed to land on players that had previously been in the organ-I-zation but couldn’t play dead. Of course, this now begs the question why both Henrik Borgstrom and Erik Gustafsson sat all three of these games if they are out of favor with the team and are trade candidates with scouts in attendance nightly and the Hawks playing for exactly fuckall with 25 games still to go. Maybe Kyle’s still just getting the hang of this thing.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago+, WGN-AM 720
Touchdown Tom: Raw Charge
It seems fitting that the Hawks and Bolts will close out their season series exactly where it was projected that both teams would, with Tampa able to clinch their playoff berth with a victory of any kind tonight, and the Hawks all but mathematically eliminated, could very well be a mere 2 points away from doing so by night’s end depending on the results of the Stars and Preds’ games, who are both in action against the Canes and Cats respectively.
Well this started out about as generously as could be expected given the how wide the gulf between these two teams currently is. There were extended stretches of both games where the Bolts were seemingly just playing with their food, rope-a-doping the Hawks into tiring themselves out and then immediately capitalizing on the slightest miscue and creating odd-man rushes going the other way with a single stride. This team is still favored to win this makeshift, slapdash division without Nikita Kucherov for a reason, as Andrei Vasilivskiy in particular barely broke a sweat in these two games, looking as locked in as he ever has. Of course, when Brandon Pirri and Ryan Carpenter are the ones just tossing prayers in your direction, it’s certainly easy to look that way.
- It has long been established that part of the style guide here is to avoid questioning drive, jump, effort, body language, COMPETE, whatever horse shit term anyone wants to use when analyzing a game. But this team certainly already looks like it is acutely aware that this is a lost season to be played in empty buildings amid a plague, and knows it is woefully outgunned. This couldn’t possibly speak to the fact that the coach is a mealy mouthed boy band reject who’s idea of a firey pregame speech is whispering from a toilet stall while his hall of fame captain stares daggers into the abyss because it’s clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Which all COULD work, if there was any semblance of his tactics having on-ice results. Being a stomping redass with snot and spit flying everywhere as he screams isn’t a solution either.
- Speaking of revolutionary defensive zone coverage, a fun game to play at home is to do a shot every time the Hawks are scored against while both defensemen are in the same corner. Don’t worry, during lockdown it’s “Airport Rules” – no one is allowed to question why, when, how much, or what you’re drinking.
- Especially guilty of the aforementioned crimes against hockey sensibilities is Nikita Zadorov, who appears to be the perfect storm of lunkheadedness, obliviousness, aggression, and having a lack of coherent structure from his coaching staff to be profoundly, tragically out of position at all times. It’s a good thing he’s paired with Adam Boqvist, who was already teetering on the brink of being broken by this organization.
- Speaking of Boqvist (and Ian Mitchell), it’s clear that the tools are there for both of them, but it’s still very clear that these two are playing either scared to make a mistake, or in-between in their heads fighting their shotgunny instincts that made them prospects in the first place. And if every single mistake ends up in the back of the net and/or is subsequently punished, it could break these two young careers before they even start.
- Boqvist in particular let his instincts show late last night when it was still 3-2, where he jumped down from the right point looking for a seam pass that obviously missed, and sprang a Bolts rush the other way that Ondrej Palat buried. But those are the type of chances the Hawks have not only got to live with, but encourage from Boqvist and Mitchell. His insticts were absolutely right, given that the passing lane was there and he was uncovered, and that within the context of the score and clock it was absolutely a judicious chance to take. Just because it didn’t work doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great idea, and that cannot be punished or coached out of him.
- In another round of coaching brilliance, Coach Jeremy Trestman has got Andrew Shaw in the trigger man spot in the high slot/near the top of the rings on the first unit, with Dylan Strome in front. While the unit has scored twice (Game #1’s goal was…..yeah), it’s fairly safe to say that that spot is not where Andrew Shaw’s skill set is maximized. True Brain Genious/Cortex Warrior thinking here.
- In net, while both Malcolm Subban and Colin Delia gave up five goals a piece, Delia looked sharper for the most part, making some more difficult saves even if him handling the puck is clearly an adventure. Don’t anticipate either distinguishing himself for a #1 workload any time soon, especially with what the defense in front of them is providing.
- There is no reason at all that Philipp Kurashev shouldn’t be playing every single game, especially when the alternative is Brandon Pirri.
- Pius Suter at least doesn’t look out of place here in the NHL, but it remains to be seen if he’s on trajectory to be just “a guy” or a contributor.
That’s about it for now, the Hawks visit old friend Joel and his Cats tomorrow night for their season opener as their first two games against Dallas got banged due to PESTILENCE. Maybe these games will be closer or the Hawks might win one, but don’t bet the stimulus check on it.
Game Time: 6:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN, NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
The Business Of Pleasure: Raw Charge
In a manner befitting of their relative age as far as the hockey world is concerned, rather than spend Black Friday in California as they have done in years past, the Hawks have opted to go the snow bird route and kick off the holiday season in Florida, starting tonight in Tampa against the lecherous Jon Cooper and his Lightning.
Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Spanish Moss: Raw Charge
Tonight the Hawks will cap off the traditional 3-in-4 stretch weekend stretch by welcoming the eastern conference powerhouse that all of the galaxy brained hockey minds seemingly always forget about, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who themselves are also bringing a weekend Midwest swing to a close.
With the second round now upon us, Adam Hess takes a shift with Sam, John and myself to discuss the playoffs to this point. As always, no subscription is needed for the podcast, and can be grabbed after the jump.
While the Penguins and Capitals take part in what is almost a rote annual exercise at this point elsewhere in the East, since the Bruins made it clear they had their shit together this year around Thanksgiving, this has been the de facto conference final that they and the Lightning have been on a collision course for. And it’s sure to provide some of the most entertaining hockey of the post-season.
Game Time: 6:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Haunting, Haunted, Haunts: Raw Charge
While the Hawks might be in cruise control with at home ice in the first round only two points away from being clinched and being seven up in the conference for home ice in the West, this week is could certainly make things interesting by playing 5 straight games in the east, with every one of them with at least something on paper to play for. Saturday night already saw the Hawks get bitten in the dick by the Cats, and tonight they stay in Florida to face a Lightning team hanging by a thread.
Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Cliché Guevara: Raw Charge
As this stretch of the schedule lurches ever forward like a herd of Fifth Feather John’s beloved zombies, the Hawks welcome a team that is basically walking dead to the United Center for the penultimate game before the All Star break in the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning.
So the Penguins blew an early two goal lead (again), and a late one goal lead at home to lose on an ass-goal a minute into overtime. Clearly it was the distinct lack of Trevor Daley in the lineup that caused this outcome.