Hockey

Well it’s been a while since there have been games for the Hawks that have needed to be covered, two full weeks in fact since they last played in Dallas, wherein they earned point in overtime after falling behind very early, thanks in large part to a hit from Brett Connolly on Hawk Legend Tanner Kero that landed Connolly four games on top of getting 5 and the gate. Since then it has been a whirlwind of cancellations and changes in protocols across all sports and real life as Omicron burns through the unvaccinated countryside. It even led the NHL to pull out of the Olympics in China in February, and while a few players wet their pants over it, it’s probably the right move given China’s far stricter covid measures and the number of games that are going to need to be rescheduled during that break. In any event, the Hawks are back at it tomorrow afternoon while everyone rehydrates, as the Winter Classic is now smartly placed in prime time in Minnesota. Whether any of these games actually take place remains to be seen.

1/1 – at Nashville

Game Time  – 1:00 PM CST
TV/Radio – 
NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
David Poile Has Always Been A Scumbag – On The Forecheck

In the penultimate game before the pause, the Nashville Predators were already pretty well besieged by covid and still manage to rub the Hawks’ ass in moonshine pretty much the entire game on the shot and possession ledger, with the Hawks only getting a point thanks to Marc Andre Fleury’s necessary acrobatics. And while the Hawks by and large have stayed clear of the covid fray, Flower still has yet to test out of it, and it’s unlikely he’ll be available for the New Year’s Day matinee. The Preds have already played two games since the restart after Christmas, losing in regulation in Washington, which happens, and then losing in a shootout to Columbus, which probably shouldn’t happen to a serious team. Though having Roman Josi out in protocols certainly isn’t helping their cause, as he’s their leading scorer (again) from the back end with 29 points. Colton Sissons is also currently out, but that could all change at a moment’s notice. As is going to be the case for probably the next two or three weeks, these games are still going to be completely slapdick in terms of roster availability and how that affects outcomes.

1/2 – vs Calgary

Game Time – 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Dangerous Minds – ScorchStack

The Hawks had better hope Flower passes his PCRs or whatever soon, otherwise they’ll turn their lonely gaze towards Swedish child Arvid Soderblom to take the second half of the back to back and make his NHL debut, instead of Colin Delia whose ass is likely going to be stuck in the drive through at Beef A Roo for the rest of his life. Soderblom has a .915 in nine games for the Piggies, so it’s fair that he at least gets a look so the Hawks know if they have anything before they inevitably have to ask MAF where he’d like to be traded. Being listed at 6’2″, 188 lbs is probably generous for this taut pre-teen Swedish boy, as his draft mugshot last year made the rounds last year to a chorus of “christ almighty”. The Flames won their first game back last night in Seattle, and are avoiding a stopover in Winnipeg (hooray) prior to coming here. They’re mostly healthy right now, and dong whipped the Hawks at the Saddledome in November, so this could be TRIAL BY FIRE (GET IT) for young Arvid.

1/4 – vs Colorado

Game Time – 7:30PM
TV/Radio – ESPN+/Hulu (bullshit), WGN-AM 720
Loud Pack – Mile High Hockey

The Avs clearly aren’t where they would like to be standings-wise right now. They had a ton of nagging injuries even before this latest bout with pestilence gripped the league, though at the moment it appears that they don’t have anyone in protocol. However Bowen Byram, who was supposed to announce his presence to the league this year has yet to do so consistently, and is currently on IR. But regardless of what the Wild might be doing in the division at the moment, it’s still all about the spring for the Avs, as they still have the firepower to come out of the Western Conference if not win the whole fucking thing, and have yet to get past the second round since their proverbial window has opened. Though it seems like nine years ago already, the Avs absolutely embarrassed the Hawks and the previous regime on national television on opening night for TNT’s first broadcast, so it will be an interesting measuring post to see if even the slightest bit of structure and home ice can keep this game competitive for even 40 minutes.

 

Happy New Year Everyone.

Hockey

There is literally nowhere for this team to go but up after the worst week in this franchise’s long history of bad weeks, both on and off the ice. The Hawks extended their own streak in futility to start the season, came away with one point out of a possible six, and looked like disinterested shit while doing so. It all pales in comparison to the shockwaves still echoing across the league today for their arguable criminal negligence 11 years ago, but either way the games on the schedule still have to be played. Not that this standard is going to be adhered to, at this time in 2018 when the now disgraced Joel Quenneville was launched and the team was supposed to be competitive (as this one was to be), he was fired after 15 points in 15 games. With two points in 9 games so far, it is now not possible for Jeremy Trestman to even meet that meager threshold, but given the circumstances around the team, it remains unlikely he’ll be fired any time soon. Even at that point, the next choice on the bench to step in is Marc Crawford, who was the first head coach Quenneville served under, and was suspended himself for physical abuse of players. Around every every corner there seems to be a new and fresh pile of shit to step in, but perhaps most impressive is that in just a month, the Hawks have seemingly managed to absolutely crush the spirit of one of the league’s smiling faces for a generation in Marc-Andre Fleury, while basically playing themselves into a wasted season in the blink of an eye. If the Hawks new GM Kyle something or other has any humanity, he’ll get Flower the fuck out of here at the earliest possible convenience.

11/1 – vs Ottawa

Game Time – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-720
Lance And Blake (One Son) – Silver Seven Sens

Perhaps the Hawks’ best chance to grab a victory comes tonight against the visiting Senators, though that’s not to say that it’s going to be in any way easy, as absolutely nothing about this team can be taken as a given at this point. The Sens are coming off a victory in Dallas, having last played on Friday, so they got to spend their Halloween here in the city. That marked the Senators first road win and second against the Stars so far this season, and to this point they’ve been fairly competitive. They’re obviously an incredibly young team that’s still figuring things out with all of the hallmarks – good power play, bad on the road, and needing excellent goaltending to prop it all up, which they’ve gotten from Matt Murray and Filip Gustavsson, but former Hawk legend Anton Forsberg has been another story. So far the younger of the Garbage Tkachuk Sons has yet to hit his stride after missing camp and the first three games of the year with his contract dispute, but he’ll likely round into form soon. Likewise Tim Stutzle has been slow out of the gates after showing plenty of flash in last year’s abbreviated campaign. The Senators have gotten contrtibutions elsewhere up front for the time being in Drake Batherson and Josh Norris, but they’ll need their marquee guys to step it up, along with getting the play driven from the back end by Thomas Chabot in order to hang around for longer than just a month before their inevitable descent into the oblivion that is Kanata.

 

11/3 – vs Carolina

Game Time – 7:30PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago+, TVA-S, WGN-AM 720
Larry Johnson’s Grandmama – Canes Country

The Hurricanes are now 8-0-0, with all eight wins coming in regulation. They will also have had two full days off coming into Wednesday night’s game, having played most recently on Sunday afternoon. This probably goes just about as well at Club 1901 as it did in Raleigh.

11/5 – at Winnipeg

Game Time – 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Leave Them At “The Airport” – Arctic Ice Hockey, Jets Nation

So Kevin Chevyldayoff gets to keep his job despite the fact he was in the meeting where all of Hawks upper management effectively conspired to keep Kyle Beach’s claims swept under the rug because he was the only person who placed himself there, but still didn’t manage to do anything about it? This is why hockey culture is perversely fucked and needs to be burnt to the ground for any real improvements to be made. Anyway, on the ice, the Jets are the same mess they’ve been for what feels like 12 years now. The forward group is extremely solid top to bottom even if Blake Wheeler is somehow like 58 years old now, the blue line is a complete gas can in its own end, and Connor Hellebuyck needs to be in top form for them to have a chance. To this point he hasn’t been, with an .899 overall, but that’s been absolutely obliterated by the Jets’ horse shit PK, which is only operating at 63% right now, good for 31st in the league. Of the 24 goals Hellebuyck has allowed, a staggering ELEVEN have come on the power play, and his even strength save percentage is a fully respectable and sustainable (for him) .935. Good thing for them that Paul Maurice teams are known for staying out of the box.

11/7 – vs Nashville

Game Time – 6:00PM CST
TV/Radio –NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet1, WGN-AM 720
It’s Just Fucking Everywhere Isn’t It? – On The Forecheck

Every year it seems like it might finally be the one where Nashville finally has the bottom fall out of it, and every year they seem to still make the playoffs by the hair on their ass. Of course, they won’t get to play a full 12% of their games against this stupid ass Hawks team like they did last year and took 15 of 16 possible points. Nearly 25% of their points came from games against the Hawks last year, and it’s not exactly like John Hynes has a throbbing brain in that big bald head of his. It literally just takes a single counter-measure to make Vinny Del Colliton look like a completely clueless asshole. Roman Josi is once again leading this team in scoring with 9 points in 8 games from the back end because that’s how this whole thing has to work with Filip Forsberg the only real threat offensively because Ryan Johansen is too busy chugging root beers. Juuse Saros has been solid at evens with a .931, but only has a .917 overall thanks to early season PK issues in Nashville as well, though clearly not to the extent of the Jets. He’ll have to be excellent for them to even stay on the fringes of the wild card situation even with as shitty as the Pacific is, if only because there’s simply almost no firepower up front.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 46 Game 47 Game 48
Event Summaries: Game 46 Game 47 Game 48
Natural Stat Trick: Game 46 Game 47 Game 48

If nothing else, this week was going to reveal whether or not the Hawks had indeed built on literally anything over the past 40-odd games after having been prematurely declared “fun” and “pesky” and “suprising” earlier in the season where they accumulated enough points in the skills competition where it was going to be extremely difficult for them to blow the 4-seed they had ensconsed themselves in. But, as has always been the case for the past three seasons under Coach Jeremy Bevington, despite offering a glimmer of hope (as they did Wednesday night), his teams will always blow any and every chance they have in critical games simply because he is completely overmatched on top of running an easily exploitable system. And in the case of the Predators, despite having no true top end scoring (and having the only person who might threaten with that label hurt in Filip Forsberg) and a complete cipher as a coach in John Hynes, their speed and like two basic adjustments – sit on blind breakout attempts up the wall, and have defenseman crash down if a Hawks d-man follows his check above the hashmark on a cycle as he’s stupidly supposed to – proved to be enough to take 15 of 16 points in the season series and ultimately torpedo any ill-conceived playoff hopes the Hawks or their fans/media may have had eyes on both in the macro and micro scale. It’s better this way, however, as there is a very real chance the wrong lessons could have been learned from positive results not matching a bad process.

Hockey

Box Score
Event Summary
Natural Stat Trick

At a certain point it becomes impressive, just a marvel of consistency that the Hawks under Coach Cool Youth Pastor manage to seem to always find ways to lose games against divisional opponents at crucial times during the season. Our former proprietor and fearless leader did some homework for this past week’s podcast, and now including the three most recent games to the Predators, the Hawks are an astounding 1-11-3 in “four point games” – games against teams they’re either directly above or below in the divisional standings late in the season. And this time, after getting absolutely pasted in possession by the Panthers, they somehow managed to put up 41 shots in Nashville against a relatively solid territorial team in the Preds, and managed to get shut out by Juuse Saros. It goes back to the familiar refrain heard here months ago when the masses thought this team was building/growing something beating absolutely putrid teams in overtime and staying in the hunt, that this team only has one way to beat you – and that’s have either goalie stand on his head and get power play production from one of the two-ish forwards that can score. When that doesn’t happen, it looks like it’s looked recently.

Observations

  • Leading to the first goal, the penalty that Zadorov took was simply inexcusable. He’s not exactly incon-fucking-spicuous out there, and leading with a flying elbow against the glass certainly doesn’t draw any less attention to himself. Even if he accomplished absolutely everything he intended to in a best case scenario there, that’s still an extremely high risk play at the Preds blue line, where they had puck support exiting, and he would have once again taken himself out of the play to make a hit, but possibly sprung an odd man break going the other way. That the Preds promptly scored on the ensuing power play, and given the fact that they have just sat on leads against the Hawks for the previous four games they’ve played this year and Zadorov did not miss a shift is bordering on criminal negligence from Jeremy Trestman. Zadorov will keep doing this shit because there is no consequence other than being on a dog ass defense, and save for last year in Colorado, thoughout his career he has seemed pretty content to just do what he does and look like a big fucking asshole in the process.
  • Even though the Hawks didn’t dent the twine at all today, this is probably the most active that Dylan Strome has looked since maybe the first week of the season. Maybe the looming reality of being a dad weighed on him and certainly the concussion protocol didn’t help, but he is certainly more noticeable in the past three games, particularly at even strength where he had been an utter ghost for weeks on end previously.
  • Kevin Lankinen’s rebound control continues to be an issue. While none were converted, there were plenty of pucks kicked directly right into harm’s way, and given what this defense is capable of (see above), and it’s lack of fixed positioning, those are eventually going to be cashed in on and it won’t be pretty.
  • Not much more to say about this one, the Hawks get Dallas back at home next in another case of facing a direct competitor for a playoff spot, as the Hawks and Stars are tied in points percentage but the Stars are still playing catchup and are about 4 or 5 games behind everyone else still. But hey, Vinnie Hinostroza may be out of quarantine in time for his triumphant return!
Hockey

vs

Game Times: 7:00PM
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NBCSN (3/28), WGN-AM 720
Time’s Up: On The Forecheck
*All Stats Mentioned Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick*

As March comes to a close in whatever this oddball, virus-addled, mutation of a season ends up being, games that were already the proverbial “Four Pointers” between divisional opponents have started to become even more magnified, especially with the added element of “series” play introduced where a team can gain ground quickly if so inclined. It’s just such a weekend for the Hawks and visiting Preds, who sit on opposite sides of the playoff line in the Central division.

Hockey

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Game Times: 7:00PM (1/26), 6:30PM (1/27)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago (1/26), NBCSN (1/27), WGN-AM 720
Beat Reporters Crying About Not Being Able To Visit Tootsie’s: On The Forecheck

Despite two wins against the terrible and depleted Red Wings over the weekend, this season still figures to be a long one for the Hawks, whose travels now take them to Nashville for a back to back against the Predators. And while the Hawks may be a punchline now with many gleefully kicking dirt on the grave of the team, it’s a far better fate than what’s befallen the Predators, who have a single Final appearance to their name despite being darlings of the hockey cognoscenti for just about as long.

Hockey

vs

Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Send David Poile To Gitmo: On The Forecheck

In a less-dystopian universe, one where each team played to what their roster says they should be, tonight’s matchup on West Madison would be one filled with Western Conference playoff intrigue. The Predators jockeying for home ice in the first round and the Hawks clinging to hold on to one of the last wild card spots. But instead, it’s the Preds still trying to figure themselves out as they keep running out of road in the regular season, and the Hawks actively imploding.

Hockey

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Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN, NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
David Poile Is A Scumbag: On The Forecheck

If the Hawks record and stagnant roster weren’t a self evident indication of how rudderless and sclerotic this Organ-I-Zation has been since its most recent playoff ouster at the hands of tonight’s vistors, the Nashville Predators, then the fact that the Preds fired Peter Laviolette earlier this week while remaining ahead of the Hawks in the standings should drive the point home. But it remains unchanged that the Hawks are still outwardly holding the product on-ice to a playoff standard, and tonight poses yet another opportunity to gain points on a team they are currently (on paper) battling for a playoff spot, an opportunity which will surely end up being pissed away in creative fashion as so many others have the past two seasons.

Everything Else

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Game Time: 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN National, WGN-AM 720
Fuck David Poile: On The Forecheck

With the next stop on this Freakout Hell Bus Ride of 5 games in 7 nights for the Hawks, they find themselves once again in Nash Vegas, where they’ll take on the league’s secret scumbag team masquerading as its sweetheart, the Predators, who somehow once again look different than the last time the Hawks saw them.