Hockey

This sucks.

There’s not a lot more I can say really. This is what the beginning of a rebuild really looks like, and we’re going to be stuck here for years to come. And personally, I’m not sure how many more free Lankinen rebounds my frail heart can watch. Rebounds for everyone, everywhere, as many as you can scoop up. And the Hawks defense are not scooping very many of those rebounds up at all. Still waiting for those Beaudin and Mitchell call-ups, by the way. Literally any day now.

In all seriousness, a sincere congrats is in order for Pat Foley in his upcoming retirement. The man has been the voice of the Hawks for as long as most of us can remember, and he will be the hardest voice in hockey to replace. I couldn’t tell you a damned thing about Chris Vosters, the new play-by-play announcer, as the merry-go-round of TV auditions from this year has made all the new people a blur. Next Sunday, Foley and the man himself, Dale Tallon, will be broadcasting their final game together in what will likely be an automatic loss to Dallas. Buckle up for that one, folks.

The good news is that baseball starts this week, so everyone in Chicago can turn their attention towards their respective baseball teams and grumble about everything that’s wrong with those two franchises. Add onto the misery, why don’t we?

Monday 3/28
Hawks 5, Sabres 6
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

The Hawks have spent years of our collective lives getting bailed out by their goaltenders, most recently in Marc-Andre Fleury. Now that era is over, and we get to watch garbage teams like the Sabres score four unanswered goals on the Hawks to tie it and two more within seconds of each other win the game. Granted, the Hawks defensemen weren’t doing Kevin Lankinen any favors throughout—Erik Gustafsson continues to take years off my life standing in front of the net and doing absolutely nothing to defend multiple Sabres goals, in one case kicking it into his own net. Without elite-level goaltending between the pipes, this team is an utter tire fire.

The Cat was responsible for a powerplay goal over halfway through the 3rd that put the Hawks back on top, but the momentum was all Buffalo’s starting really in the 2nd period, and two more Sabres goals late in the 3rd sealed the fate of the Hawks. Kane had a few solid chances near the end of the 3rd, but he wasn’t able to convert on any of them. The Sabres’ tying goal was a result of the Hawks defensemen being on one side of the ice and Alex Tuch on the other, receiving a pass to shoot at a pretty wide-open net—Tyler Johnson didn’t stand a chance defending that one. Jeff Skinner nearly scored seconds later but a Dylan Strome trip disallowed the goal and put Strome in the penalty box. The Sabres’ winning goal was entirely the fault of Lankinen, and something that an NHL-level goaltender shouldn’t allow. It cost the Hawks a point and the game, but luckily this team has nothing to play for down the stretch.

Thursday 3/31
Hawks 0, Panthers 4
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

I mean, I’m not sure who actually expected a Hawks win out of this game, but it was still tough to watch our (like it or not) captain Jonathan Toews look like he was having a genuinely horrible time during his 1,000th NHL game. Every eye and metric test imaginable against these two teams show the Panthers as the vastly superior team. This game became another look at how far the Hawks will have to climb to be relevant again. It will be a game and a season that Toews will likely want to forget as his legacy is called into question, fairly or not, after his reaction to the Beach allegations, the trade deadline moves, and other whathaveyous. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who wished for a happier outcome for the Captain tonight.

In other news, this game was dreck to watch. Sergei Bobrovsky completely shut the Hawks down, stopping all 37 shots he faced. On the other end of the ice, Collin Delia, who is not an NHL-caliber goalie, got scored on five times, although a mercy kick-in ruling of Barkov’s goal 40 seconds into the game made it only four goals against. Rebounds, five-holes, and a porous defense (Riley Stillman still sucks) meant the Hawks got lit up all night long.

Friday 4/1
Hawks 2, Lightning 5
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

Nothing like a shellacking on one night to prepare you for another shellacking the next night. The Lightning may not be playing like the impenetrable force they had been over the last month, but once again the gap between the Hawks and actual Stanley Cup-contending teams was well on display tonight. Not to mention it became a Brandon Hagel revenge game when he scored an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game, which I’m sure made Toews incredibly angry.

The Hawks at least scored in this one, the first goal coming from an unexpected source as Calvin de Haan blasted one home from the point in a play reminiscent of Duncan Keith. The other goal was scored by the Cat (who else?) to tie the game, though it certainly didn’t last long as the Lightning made quick work of the game over the 2nd and 3rd periods. And Tampa Bay’s penalty kill (9th in the league) thwarted the Hawks’ multiple powerplay opportunities almost every time and occasionally leading to an odd-man rush the other way. I truly felt bad for Lankinen—how can you possibly ask him, another fringe NHL goalie, to save some of the plays the Lightning produced?

Sunday 4/3
Hawks 2, Coyotes 3 (Coyotes win despite not having their shit together)
Box Score
Natural Stat Trick

At least this was an overtime loss, but it was still a loss to the Coyotes, the league’s true albatross. The skill level of the opponent compared to the previous two matchups were considerably lower, and the game got to be a bit chippy throughout. Defensive structures for both teams fluctuated from “none at all” to “let’s go six minutes straight without a shot on goal as we fool around in the neutral zone,” which leads to wacky hockey.

Dylan Strome was able to score just a minute into the game to give the Hawks their first lead in who knows how long. And the Hawks didn’t look so bad for the 1st period either, although I must again reiterate that the Coyotes are the league’s albatross. Arizona took over in the 2nd period, however, scoring two goals thanks to an Amy’s Youngest clearing attempt gone terribly wrong, and Calvin de Haan and Jake McCabe both getting pantsed by some guy named Travis Boyd. Not a good look.

Despite Kane tying the game up in the 3rd, the Hawks were unable to put it away in overtime. Instead, it was Shane Ghost Bear who was credited with a goal that actually went in thanks to the skate of Amy’s Eldest, a fitting end to the clown show this week of games has been. Speaking of Ghost Bear, I’m amazed he hasn’t been sent to the land of wind and ghosts considering he took a puck to the throat and a stick to the face this game. That’s hockey, I guess.

Everything Else

I’m kind of anxious to get onto the break so I’m just going to hammer this out in the aftermath instead of waiting a bit to reflect as usual. I’m sure you all understand. Let’s get right to it.

-I don’t think the Hawks weren’t interested tonight. The effort was there, which I feared it might not be. What they weren’t was interested in the right ways. What you can’t do against the Coyotes when they’re on their game is fancy-pants your way through the neutral zone and you certainly can’t put your dump-ins where Mike Smith can get it. It’s hard to do, and it takes a fuckton of patience, but you have to chip pucks into the corners or go cross-corner with your dump-ins. The Hawks didn’t do much of either. If you don’t, Smith is going to smother your forecheck by himself.

Secondly, the Coyotes while blocking off the middle of the ice were also determined to outnumber the Hawks in every board battle in their zone. Two guys vs. one, or three guys vs. two. And the Hawks were reluctant to even match them in manpower. They Hawks aren’t blessed with guys who can outwork a numerical disadvantage along the wall. They have Hossa and… well, Hossa. They needed to be a more aggressive in matching the numbers on the wall tonight.

Everything Else

I’m kind of anxious to get onto the break so I’m just going to hammer this out in the aftermath instead of waiting a bit to reflect as usual. I’m sure you all understand. Let’s get right to it.

-I don’t think the Hawks weren’t interested tonight. The effort was there, which I feared it might not be. What they weren’t was interested in the right ways. What you can’t do against the Coyotes when they’re on their game is fancy-pants your way through the neutral zone and you certainly can’t put your dump-ins where Mike Smith can get it. It’s hard to do, and it takes a fuckton of patience, but you have to chip pucks into the corners or go cross-corner with your dump-ins. The Hawks didn’t do much of either. If you don’t, Smith is going to smother your forecheck by himself.

Secondly, the Coyotes while blocking off the middle of the ice were also determined to outnumber the Hawks in every board battle in their zone. Two guys vs. one, or three guys vs. two. And the Hawks were reluctant to even match them in manpower. They Hawks aren’t blessed with guys who can outwork a numerical disadvantage along the wall. They have Hossa and… well, Hossa. They needed to be a more aggressive in matching the numbers on the wall tonight.

Everything Else

Hawk Wrestler vs. spacecoyote

FACEOFF: 8pm Central

TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN Radio

SORRY, I AM A COYOTE: Five For Howling

The Hawks head into the Olympic break with one more game in the desert against a Coyotes squad that is being kept around the playoff picture thanks to the utter incompetence of the Canucks and Kings. They’ll have to do it a little more shorthanded than they’ve been all season.

Everything Else

With the Hawks doing a rare Friday-Saturday night double, we’re going to combine our wrap and preview on the pivot. Hopefully we don’t pull a muscle.

There’s not too much to say about last night’s “win.” Though the Hawks have gotten smacked by Colorado and Nashville recently, yesterday’s game certainly felt like the sloppiest they’ve played. I waited for the Hawks to be able to connect on three straight passes at any point. I’m still waiting. Two seemed a struggle. Luckily for the Hawks, the Stars weren’t any better. Everything was kind of frantic and chances basically came out of whatever team was able to rugby-scrum their way toward the other team’s net. This game would have caused Herb Brooks to break out his “monkeys humping a football” line.

Everything Else

With the Hawks doing a rare Friday-Saturday night double, we’re going to combine our wrap and preview on the pivot. Hopefully we don’t pull a muscle.

There’s not too much to say about last night’s “win.” Though the Hawks have gotten smacked by Colorado and Nashville recently, yesterday’s game certainly felt like the sloppiest they’ve played. I waited for the Hawks to be able to connect on three straight passes at any point. I’m still waiting. Two seemed a struggle. Luckily for the Hawks, the Stars weren’t any better. Everything was kind of frantic and chances basically came out of whatever team was able to rugby-scrum their way toward the other team’s net. This game would have caused Herb Brooks to break out his “monkeys humping a football” line.

Everything Else

For the first six minutes of this game, you couldn’t have asked for pretty much anything more from the Hawks. They controlled the play, every shift seemed to be rolling and the puck was planted in the Yotes’ zone… oh, and they were up two goals.

Then things went off the rails a bit. It started with a deflection off a Hawk that snuck past Corey. Then on a power play, a shot from the point bounced hard off the board and found it’s way to Shane Doan’s stick who snuck an unreal wrister to the far top corner. The Hawks would play pretty much the rest of the period on the kill thanks to Bollig and took the game into the second tied.

Everything Else

spacecoyote vs. Hawk Wrestler

FACEOFF: 7pm Central

TV/RADIO: CSN, WGN 720

NO REGRETS…: Five For Howling

Although Ralph was technically “Ralph Wolf,” he sure looked a lot like Wile E. Coyote. Anyway…

It doesn’t exactly feel like it, but tonight sees two of the NHL’s top five teams squaring off. That’s right. But the Coyotes don’t really generate that type of buzz, do they? There’s no feature on NHL.com about this one, or televised on NHL Network or something of a feed on Twitter about neutrals looking forward to watching two hockey powers go toe-to-toe. Maybe that will all be saved for Sunday’s tilt against the Sharks.