Everything Else

Heading on vacation for the week, so let’s clear some stuff out before it’s all day drinking and yelling at college friends.

-Late to the train on this, but you can excuse me if I totally forgot the Detroit Red Wings existed. Anyway, they inked Dylan Larkin to a five-year extension, one that will carry a $6.1M hit. This has some bearing on the Hawks, because they’ve made a lot of noise about keeping some head room on the cap for when Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat, and any other jamoke that decides to have a good year, have to sign extensions themselves. And we know the Hawks are loathe to play hardball. They’ll either basically acquiesce to whatever any player they like wants, or they’ll trade them to Carolina.

Larkin’s deal is going to be something Schmaltz’s agent circles and uses as a starting point. While they’re hardly the same player, their production looks pretty similar. Larkin put up 77 points in his first two seasons, and Schmaltz has put up 80. Larkin is probably the better goal-scorer, but Schmaltz’s 22 is only one off what Larkin did as a rookie and hasn’t matched since.

What will have the Hawks a little worried is if Schmaltz bust out in his third season the way Larkin did, doubling his point-total from the previous season to this one just past. Ok, if Schmaltz did that he’d be a 100-point player so that’s not going to happen. And really, there isn’t too much where Schmaltz can bust. He shot 17.8% last year, and doesn’t appear to be the type who can mutate a 20%+ year. That 17% might even be an aberration. If he produces more shots, that would be an area where you could see the production rise out of. Schmaltz only fired off 1.5 shots on net per game, and just a little under three attempts. It’s not hard to envision playing a full year with Kane where that could go up, and if the percentages remained where they were and he tickles 30 goals he could become way expensive in a hurry.

Larkin also played with only middling talent, though Anthony Mantha is probably slightly more than that. Thomas Tatar really isn’t. Schmaltz is going to get a better platform, and a 60+ point season sees him in the $7 million range. No, it really could. Since The Great Lockout Of ’05, 34 players have managed 140 points or more in their first three seasons. All of them became at least what would be $6 million players today. Here’s the list in case you want to peruse.

-Scott Powers caught up with Brandon Saad’s summer training today at The Athletic. And if you want a lesson in saying nothing while looking like you’re saying nothing, check out the quotes from Brian Keane.

“We’ll track a number of different stats and things that are specific to the type of player that we’re looking at and try to identify areas they’re really excelling at, as well as areas we think they can improve upon,”

Wouldn’t that be every summer program?

“It really starts with the video and assessing all those different things we’re looking at and then start game-planning from there what we can to do to devise a plan for him during the summer.”

Yeah, again, wouldn’t this be every program? Or do most guys just go out and bail hay on some Canadian farm? I guess Saad would be on a Pennsylvania farm but you get the point.

“He can do that especially off a rush or a loose puck play where there’s a turnover and you have someone in front of him. He can use defenders as screens and read where the stick is to change the point of release or create that space for the shot. That’s been something we’ve focused on a lot. But also identifying where to pop in and out of seams and having a sense for when he can use those wheels to hit that seam and time it in a nice way where he’s giving himself a really good opportunity at the weak side or staying outside the pack and then reentering at the right time.”

Doesn’t this all boil down to “getting open?” Sure, changing shooting angles with the puck on your stick is something you can improve and not something Saad does a lot of, but if he doesn’t already have a sense of how to lose himself to the defense, is that something you can just learn?

Anyway, if it improves Saad’s accuracy or gives him a more lethal shot, I guess I’m all for it. Sounds like they’ve been saying what we’ve been saying, but whatever.

-NBC announced it was altering its hockey schedule a bit, which is good news. I guess. I mean the Hawks still appear more than anyone and they suck out loud, but mighty oaks from little acorns. The big news is that “WEDNESDAY NIGHT RIVALRY ARGH BARGH GRAB YOURSELF SPIT AND FART” is going the way of the dodo. Now it’s just “Wednesday Night Hockey” and more often than not will be a double-header. This is good news, as it allows NBC to get the likes of McDavid, Gaudreau, Karlsson, and various California players that are old now on national TV more often without waiting for them to visit the Flyers or Rangers. There will be more of a diverse lineup, as there should be, to highlight teams that are actually good instead of names you might know. If you can believe it, there’s actually a Jets vs. Leafs game on the slate.

Fine, whatever. It can’t hurt, though if they’re still going to have two drunken monkeys in the studio it’s still going to be an annoying broadcast. But at least it’ll be teams you want to watch, instead of more Hawks or Milbury breaking down why you need a Wayne Simmonds to win while he takes yet another dumbass penalty.

All right, jerks. Talk to you next week. Maybe.

Everything Else

Box Score

Hockey Stats

Natural Stat Trick

Sometimes hockey is stupid. The Hawks did everything you’re supposed to do, and they still come out of it with no points and no spot in the playoffs as of now. To the bullets.

– Let’s not bury the lede. Brent Seabrook slotted back in and scored the Hawks’s only goal. With all the grace of a Weeble, Seabrook wobbled but didn’t fall down as he crashed on a hard Kempný one timer from the point off a pass from Schmaltz. It was the perfect kind of goal given the broadcasting booth we had tonight. Feather had probably the best idea of the night though: Just scratch everyone for the next game and enjoy the 18 goals we’ll get afterward. While it was nice to see Seabrook pot a goal, outside of that, he was much of the same old. Yes, his foot block sprung Kane for a Wingels crossbar, but outside that, Seabrook was as plodding as ever.

– The Hawks got goalied tonight. When you have a 67 CF% share at 5v5, you normally expect to win by three, four, five goals. Fuck, the Hawks had and 80% share in the first, and only managed one goal. So credit where it’s due. Devan “My Face Is Way Too Fucking Small for My Head” Dubnyk shut down the Hawks from start to finish with 34 saves, and absolutely earned the two points the Wild walk away with.

– Like the terrifying Russian nesting doll he is, Beef ‘n’ Cheddar Bruce Boudreau’s ability to take all of the fun out of hockey is multilayered. He managed to keep his team, which had the puck for less than one-third of the game, afloat though the Hawks’s barrages. He put the Wild into a fucking 90s trap in the third period. I wish I could analyze what a stupid dickhead he is further, but his whole “How can I make hockey even worse than people think it is” schtick is too infuriating for words. Fuck him and his refusal to have a neck.

– If we’re going to dress seven D-men, which we shouldn’t because it’s such an inefficient and stupid idea, we cannot have Connor Murphy be the odd man out. We’ve got Seabrook at 14 minutes, Kempný at 12, and Murphy at 7. In what fucking world does it make sense to have Murphy and Kempný play less than Seabrook? I know yesterday was against the Senators, but of all the times to get Cubist with the blue line, why does Q have to do it against a divisional opponent on the ass-end of a back to back in a game in which the Hawks need two points? Again, Murphy has been BY FAR the best defenseman the Hawks have dressed in the last two months. What’s the logic here, if not THE NARRATIVE?

– With Wiener Anxiety heading to Arizona, Q decided to double shift Kane. He played almost 26 minutes tonight, more than any other Blackhawk. As usual, his line dominated, but this time, they failed to put anything away. So all we really take away from this is that Kane’s outrageous TOI led to Minnesota’s game winner after Kane took an offensive zone penalty. Great.

– Let’s try to be positive now. I’ve never been happier to be wrong about something than I am about Jordan Oesterle. He led all Hawks D-men in TOI with 25:52, and for the second straight game led the first PP unit instead of Keith. He also managed to clear a puck from the crease and prevent a goal. I’m always going to look at him a bit side-eyed for no other reason than he couldn’t hack it with the Oilers, but in the time he’s been here, he’s looked a lot better than expected.

– When your backup goaltender only gives up two goals, there’s no excuse to not win. The first goal wasn’t really Forsberg’s fault. I guess if you want to lay blame on Forsberg, you can go the Brian Boucher route and say that Forsberg overcommitted, but when a shot takes such a wild bounce off Wingels’s stick, I’m not going to place too much blame on the goalie.

But that second goal was one Forsberg probably wants back. I get that Suter has a heavy shot, but with no screen and a good view, it’s not a goal you can just shrug off. Still, if you’re only giving up two goals against the worst possession team in the NHL, you should expect a win.

– Probably not one to write home about for Duncan Keith, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. This was one of Keith’s junkyard dog, try-to-do-everything games, and with that often comes the kinds of egregious turnovers he committed at a few points in the game. WHAT DEY NEED TA DO IS DEY NEED TA SCRATCH KIEF ON FRIDEE SO HE KEN SCORE HIMSELF A BIG GOAL ON SUNDAY, MY FRENTS.

– I could go on and on about Milbury being the worst Fred Flintstone impersonator on Earth, but honestly, outside of the beginning of the second period, I managed to not listen to a goddamn thing that overgrown, overpaid pile of rocks and garbage said. Fuck him.

Sometimes hockey is stupid. That’s really all tonight was. Look forward to Duclair and pray to whichever god you like that Seabrook isn’t in the lineup Friday (he will be).

Beer du Jour: Zombie Dust and Two Hearted

Line of the Night: “I know how hard it is to do what he does.” – Mike Milbury, flat out lying about how he can relate to what a good player Patrick Kane is.

Everything Else

It’s always good right on the eve of the season to have something happen that makes you want to watch the NHL’s marquee games less than you already do. Having Mike Milbury replace Eddie Olczyk in the booth is certainly one way to do that.

We don’t need to go deeply into all the way Milbury sucks. He’s a neanderthal, he’s not even funny, and the next time he says anything correct about a game he’s watching will be the first, if he even watches before he belches out something between periods. He doesn’t even have in-game experience, which is a different job than studio analyst. Needless to day, this is going to be awful.

But let’s go into just how terrible this is, because it’s quite astounding.