Everything Else

John mentioned it in his recap last night, and if you listened to the podcast we did a fairly long segment on how we thought Jeremy Colliton fucked up the lines over the stretch of doom that erased the Hawks playoff hopes. It’s always a little silly to just look at a segment of games, because anything can happen for a week or two. And different opponents provide different challenges. In this stretch, for instance, the Coyotes and Canucks trapped the Hawks hard, so it would be difficult for anyone to produce a large amount of shots and chances against that. Contrast that with the high-flying Sharks and the utterly confused Martin Jones, and you have a very different game. Still, in this section of the schedule the Hawks have played the Avs and Flyers as well, who are at best middling defensive teams.

So what I wanted to do was illustrate the changes in lines over the end of the last winning streak, the slog of dumbassery that was the Hawks after that, and then last night in San Jose and the effects. I have to apologize at the top, as I haven’t been able to find a way to paste the data right in here without it looking like garbage or spilling over the entire page. so it’s going to have to be a link. If anyone has a suggestion on how to better do this, feel free to email me or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll come and make the changes. One last caveat, this also includes the win in Montreal where the Hawks got the win but we’re pretty much pummeled. So this goes from Toronto to last night in San Jose:

Games Lines Study

So you’ll notice that first game in Toronto, the Hawks had two lines that produced 10 shots on goal or more at evens, one line that got over 10 scoring chances and a further two that got over six. Again, it’s the Leafs who play very fast and open and though they eventually brought the world down around the Hawks’ ears, they will give you chances. The next game in Montreal the Hawks only had one line get anywhere close, which was the top of Sikura-Toews-Saad. But still, it had over 10 scoring chances which is something of a benchmark as you’ll see.

The next game is where Beto O’Colliton got cute, and you’ll see that no line produced even five scoring chances. Again, the Canucks set out to do this and keep things tight, but to have everyone’s production cut in half from the previous is a little jarring. And that trend continues…

Against the Flyers, no line cracked 10 scoring chances or shots or anywhere close. Same story in Denver, and the Avs are not setting out to make the game this way. Only in the return at the United Center did the top line of Top Cat-Toews-Kane crack those numbers, and after that there was no line to even create three scoring chances. We have a return to the flaccid against Arizona, where the Hawks essentially did nothing. To repeat, this was Arizona’s plan and the Hawks don’t have the talent to break through, but you can see the discrepancy.

To last night, the Hawks had a return of one line managing more than 10 scoring chances, another one with almost five, and neither of them had Patrick Kane on them. Things got a little goofy with Perlini’s benching, so it might have worked out differently.

Still, I’m all for the Hawks getting 15+ chances from two lines that don’t have Kane on them, because he’s going to find a way to produce even with limited chances and energy levels.

We’ll see how the Hawks finish the season, with what lines and with what interest level from their opponents. Let’s circle back at the end. This isn’t definitive, but you can see some trend lines.

-There was another tidbit on The Athletic today by Craig Custance about the introduction of player tracking. He had a quote from Stan Bowman, which pretty much sums up the Hawks right now:

“I want to see what it is first,” said Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. “I’m not anticipating hiring a bunch of people. I think you’ve got to figure it out. It’ll be a process of learning – ‘How is this going to help us? What am I going to do with it?’ Until it comes out, I think for me, it’s premature to be jumping in.”

Now, earlier in the piece Custance mentions that the Leafs, Rangers. Lightning, Hurricanes, and Devils have already or are in the process of hiring new staff just to deal with this. They won’t be alone.

Quite simply, if you’re taking a “wait-and-see” approach, you’re already behind. Secondly, what would be the harm, other than a few yearly salaries that probably pale in comparison to the cost of the shiny new scoreboard the Hawks are so eager to boast about, of hiring people now to be ready for this? Essentially, on one day you’ll get Bowman and the Hawks paying lip-service to them using metrics and new analytics, and then you get shit like this where they’re pretty much admitting they don’t care and never will.

Especially as this kind of thing is going to take years to amass enough data to figure out what to do with it. If you sit out a year or two, that’s probably more years you’re behind. Why wouldn’t you get started? Player tracking is already making serious inroads in the NBA and European soccer, as the article notes. It’s coming to the NHL, so why would you be so dismissive?

Don’t worry, in three years or so when this is an accepted method, Stan Bowman (who will still be in the job) will come out and say the Hawks have their own system and are on the forefront of it. It’s their way.

 

Everything Else

Just a couple quick notes before we all jettison for the weekend, or at least until tomorrow.

-If you believe that the practice lines is how it will shake out in Game 2, and even if it starts this way the blender is going to get hit pretty quickly just as in Game 1, then Q is starting with what he ended with on Wednesday. That’s:

Saad-Toews-Hossa

Sharp-Handzus-Kane

Bickell-Bolland-Shaw

Bollig-Kruger-Frolik

But look for what happened in Game 1. Bickell will get shifts with Toews and Hanzus. Sharp will skate with Bolland at points, and take some of his draws as well. Kane will get some looks with Toews. It’s going to be all over once Bollig gets stapled to the bench.

-Speaking of which, I thought Bollig was quite all right in Game 1. Part of that was because Frolik and Kruger were so active he had only about 10 square feet to cover. But he was in o the forecheck but didn’t get out of line to chase hits, and didn’t commit any dumb penalties. That’s about all I’m asking. Though if Horton is out, the B’s 4th line really shouldn’t be that much to overcome.

-Keith played 48 minutes on Wednesday. Though he’s a physical freak as we all know, let’s keep an eye on how he comes back. Similarly, Chara had 45 minutes and though he’s in just about the same shape as Keith, he is 33 and that’s a lot more to drag around. Though Chara doesn’t have to bail out Seabrook’s dead ass all the time.

-Horton remains day-to-day, but I’m going to be surprised if he makes it to the post for Game 2. If it was bad enough to miss overtime(s) and Julien admits that he couldn’t have played yesterday or today, it’s not the kind of thing that’s just going to get better. As you may have seen, his shoulder has been popping in and out since an April fight with Iginla, and it has to be agony. Maybe he can get shot up to give it a go, but how many hits can he take?

If Horton doesn’t go, Seguin moves to the top line where he looked pretty damn swift in Game 1. He’s a different type of threat, and it’s one that Keith is more equipped to handle, but it won’t make that line suddenly toothless. However, it’ll erode whatever flair they had on their bottom six unless Paille or Peverley or Kelly can emerge from The Phantom Tollbooth, which they haven’t all spring. It’s a definite advantage for the Hawks for sure.

-As for the whole Cubby Tees thing, I think the whole thing is silly and stupid. The adoption of “Boston Strong” is a farce in itself as I wrote about in The Indian’s editorial for Game 1. Anything that references Lance Armstrong needs to be done away with. The bullying of the Chicago Stronger t-shirt was silly too. The fact that we’re back to making fun of each other probably means we’ve moved on and are pretty much healed from the Marathon mayhem. Whatever. It’s not a big deal, but as someone who constantly is toeing the line of decent and insulting, I’m always miffed when someone gets reamed for being edgy.