Hockey

How does a team give up nearly 60 shots in a night and not lose the game? It sounds like the start to some frustrating math word problem from 7th grade that I inevitably fucked up, but no, it’s real and it happened in a hockey game tonight. Robin Lehner gave up four goals but still had a .930 SV%. The stats are a numerical funhouse. Let’s get to it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–Wouldn’t you know it, NOT falling behind by a couple goals and taking advantage of the other team’s weakness early on can really be a benefit. The Hawks managed to do exactly that in the first period tonight. They were extremely effective at at the cross pass just above the crease after pulling Hutchinson to his glove side, leaving a nearly wide-open net that the Hawks didn’t miss on, multiple times. The second and fourth goals in particular used this scheme. On the first goal they were set up in the same way but Kane’s shot was deflected off Ceci’s skate so Strome didn’t even have to find a rebound on the glove side. Kane’s backhander for the third goal was also ridiculous, and it came just 10 seconds after Dach’s goal. What I’m saying is, they scored a lot and looked good doing it. Which was good, seeing as they clearly couldn’t keep that up beyond about 20 minutes.

–On that note, as much as I hate to say “the Hawks had a good period but…” that is exactly what I’m going to do. Michael Hutchinson was wretched in the first period. His save percentage was .500 on the first six shots he faced. Put another way, he let in three goals on six shots to kick things off. Again, numerical funhouse. Now, the Hawks do actually deserve credit for playing well in the first, as just described, but Hutchinson’s rough start cannot be denied.

–He did get his shit together in the second, though, and that’s when the Hawks started to cool off considerably. They did have more shots in the second than the first (15 to 12), but that was still fewer than the Leafs (in the first and second periods, but also just overall, more to come on that). Possession wasn’t pretty either—in all situations, the Hawks led in the first with a 51.2 CF%, but in the second that was 46.5. I’m giving the all situations number because between the first two periods there were so many penalties, and offsetting penalties, and then a 4-on-3 and all kinds of wackiness so I’m just keeping it simple. All the way around the Hawks were pinned in their own zone for most of the second and were lucky to get out of it without giving up more goals.

–They made a much more vigorous attempt at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the third. The were outshot 26 to 7, bringing the total difference to 57 to 34 by the end of the game. Can we just reflect on that number for a minute? 57 SHOTS ON FUCKING GOAL HOW IS THAT EVEN REAL. The Hawks should be downright embarrassed, but the Leafs should feel even worse for having NOT WON when having that number of shots. And the Hawks’ possession tanked to 28.6 CF%, again in all situations. The Hawks gave up three goals in the third—if they had lost this game we would be starting our day tomorrow with word of Colliton being fired. He has Brandon Saad to thank for saving his job, at least for another few days.

–I know I’m repeating myself, but playing Kirby Dach with Andrew Shaw and Drake Caggiula is a waste of time, as is playing Adam Boqvist with Olli Maatta on the third pairing. I don’t give two shits what “development plan” the brain trust claims they have—Dach on a line with two guys who are between “a guy” and “oaf” is not going to help his development. At the same time, how is Zack Smith going to add anything to Kubalik-Kampf? (And the two of them looked good tonight as usual.) Put Dach with them for chrissake and keep Caligula-Shaw-Smith as your fourth line. And yes, Boqvist  finished above water in possession (61 CF% all situations) and had some nice moves at times but it just seems counterproductive to keep him tethered to literally a lead weight.

–Robin Lehner gave us a scare in the third when he sustained a neck injury, which can be chalked up to getting stung by 8 million shots all over his head and upper body. Luckily he was able to stay in the game, and good lord what a game he ended up having. One usually wouldn’t say that after a goalie gives up four goals, but we just covered the amount of shots this poor bastard faced. So you know what, Colliton should buy Saad AND Lehner a steak or a beer or a new house or something, because he’s got Lehner to thank for his stay of execution as well.

Can’t complain too much, I guess, since they did win and they did have one actually quality period. But it still feels tenuous, when the reason you won is getting the jump on a crappy backup goalie and while your own is super-human. Not necessarily a recipe for sustained momentum, yet, onward and upward…

Photo credit: NHL.com 

 

Everything Else

vs.

Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, SportsNet, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Kyle Dubas Is An Enabler Of Sexual Assault: Pension Plan, Leafs Nation, Literally Any Hockey Publication

And now the Blackhawks’ season can officially gets under way tonight, as all hockey is invariably pulled toward the quasar star that is the Toronto Maple Leafs; a pulsating, sucking vortex of psychosis and entitlement from which no light ever escapes.

Everything Else

 vs. 
Game Time: 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9, ESPN+, WGN-AM 720
Taking Their Talents To South Beach: Litter Box Cats

It took damn near til Christmas and halfway through the season, but the Hawks are riding their first three game winning streak of the season, and have an legitimate opportunity to extend that to four tonight at home against the equally struggling Florida Panthers.

Everything Else

 vs 

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.

Everything Else

Box Score
Event Summary
War on Ice

Well that looks a bit more familiar. While some of the components of the roster are odd fits in their given lineup spots at best or not NHL players at worst, the Hawks were at least able to do something that they weren’t able to last year, and that’s beat Michael Hutchinson in regulation, who gave the Jets what they needed last year with a 3-0-1 record against the Hawks.

Everything Else

true north vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN+ (Ch. 285), WGN-AM 720
Duck And Cover With My Yuletide Lover: Arctic Ice Hockey

In what has to be some kind of record, the Hawks will now face their fourth Canadian opponent in their last five home games, and the lone outlier in that set is Minnesota which is basically Canada anyway. Perhaps the schedule makers felt generous in giving United Center crowds bonus anthems in the Spirit of Christmas, with tonight’s game bringing the Winnipeg Jets into town.