Hockey

It seems fitting that the Hawks would get a double dose of the Avalanche this week after the city received it’s first real snowfall of the year and season on essentially back to back days. And after for the most part not really having any kind of answer for the solidly middle ground Minnesota Wild for over the weekend, this week certainly doesn’t bode well. There hasn’t really been a particularly good time for the Hawks to face the Avs over the past few seasons, but right now seems particularly bad given how things have been going in Denver for a while now.

1/24 – at Colorado

Game Time – 8:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago+, WGN-AM 720
Frontier Psychiatrist – Mile High Hockey

When last the Hawks saw the Avs, Cale Makar was putting Kirby Dach in a covid-infested blender before burying an OT winner on his backhand from an angle few would even attempt let alone roof and water bottle. Since then the Avs have gone 9-0-1, and are 17-2-2 since the beginning of December. This run has caused them to ascend to their rightful place atop the Central and the Western Conference, and has them only two points behind Tampa and the Cats for the best record in the league, and they have games in hand on both. They’re tops in the league in scoring at 4.15 goals per game, and second in goal differential, only one behind Florida with the aforementioned games in hand. They have five players averaging over a point a game, including the prohibitive favorite for Norris in Makar. And they’ve been doing it all with a 53 share, so this isn’t exactly a fluke- nor was it ever constructed any other way. Darcy Keumper has been fine with a .913, which is more than serviceable with an offense like this. Quite simply, keeping a game competitive and not getting embarrassed right now is really all that can be asked of this Hawks team, and even that feels like kind of a reach.

1/26 – at Detroit

Game Time – 6:30PM CST
TV/Radio – TNT, WGN-AM 720
Pointes High Class of ’87 ReunionWinging It

Right now, delusional Red Wings weirdos will tell anyone who will listen that this team is ahead of schedule and they’re better than they have any right to be and they’re FUN and they’re just outside of a wild card spot. And while some of that is partially true – Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider have been the first real Wings prospects to actually jump to the show and make an impact since now-captain Dylan Larkin SEVEN years ago, the reality of the situation is that while yes, there is no one between them and the last wild card spot, there are 8 points between them and the Bruins, and 11 between the next closest team in the Leafs, with each of them having four games in hand. They also have a goal differential of -26 with Alex Nedjelkovic having a wholly respectable .926 at evens in 30 appearances. So while there are some bright spots here, there is nowhere near enough offense on this roster as presently constituted. That being said, the offense here is still getting more than the Hawks are currently (2.67 goals per game to 2.34) while having a particularly dire power play at 14.8% where only the Coyotes and Habs are worse. This game will be on TNT for obvious television market reasons, but certainly not for the quality of play. Neither of these two teams are even wacky-bad anymore, it’s just boring low event hockey from both sides as that’s the only way either can hang on for dear life against better competition. But who knows, maybe these two sub-mediocre teams may produce an entertaining spectacle on the national broadcast out of being so evenly matched. Don’t count on it however.

1/28 – vs Avalanche

Game Time – 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Summit County Mountain Retreats – Mile High Hockey

Same as above but at Club 1901 this time. The Avs host Boston on Wednesday, which is the headliner late game on TNT after the Hawks/Wings opening act. And oh yeah, the Avs have won 15 straight at Pepsi Ball Bag Arena or whatever.

Hockey

With the opening three games on the road going about as balls-up as could have possibly been imagined, the Hawks return home with some serious heat on them after a roster overhaul and reassurances that yet another Magic Training Camp would make things different. But things have not been different, and cries that “It’s only X games” into the season are largely meaningless when the same disorganization and bleeding of chances has been on display for nearly 200 games since almost three calendar years ago with Coach Vinny Del Colliton’s hiring. An underreported event that has somehow slipped through the cracks in all of this was Marc-Andre Fleury’s meltdown in the tunnel following getting yanked in his “homecoming” against the Penguins on Saturday night. For all the pear shaped playoff games he spat up in Pittsburgh to getting his job taken both there and in Vegas, there has never, ever been one reported instance of him losing his shit in such a fashion, and yet it took less than four periods here enduring the barrage he’s been subject to. It could just be a prideful professional feeling embarrassed in a place he called home for so long, but he hasn’t gotten the reputation as being one of the best locker room guys in the league for a generation and a half now because he takes shit like that to heart. Truly something to monitor as he makes proper home debut tonight against the Isles.

10/19 vs. Islanders

Game Time –  7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – ESPN, WGN-AM 720
Profane Geometry  – Lighthouse Hockey

The Isles hit the West Side tonight looking for their first win as well, though their losses came against actual teams in the Canes and Cats, and on the road, as they wait for their brand-new non-charming-scum-bucket arena at Belmont Racetrack to get the finishing touches on it prior to its grand opening. One time Hawks flirtation Anders Lee is back after missing all of their second consecutive ECF run with a torn ACL, and Lou has brought in the remnants of Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to do….things. And while the Islanders have more skill than their reputation indicates with Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and Kyle Palmieri who will give you 22 goals whether you need them or not, the story as always here is the structure in which Barry Trotz has this team playing, as they will rarely beat themselves. What’s been uncharacteristic so far has been their goaltending allowing 5 goals in each of the first two games, with Ilya Sorokin getting off to a tough start. They’ll be looking to correct that this evening.

10/21 vs Canucks

Game Time – 7:30 PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet Pacific, WGN-AM 720
Diaper Time – Nucks Misconduct

After the back half of last year’s abbreviated season had the team absolutely beset by covid running wild through their dressing room causing the team to hilariously play meaningless games after the playoffs had started elsewhere, this Canucks campaign threatened to start equally as auspiciously with Young Go-Hards Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes not getting their second contracts signed until camp in Vancouver had already opened. But after much rending of garments in the streets, both were ready to be in the lineup on opening night. This is another team that got an overhaul that likely isn’t going to accomplish much, with long time blue line fixtures Chris Tanev and Alex Edler (and his elbows) now gone in favor of whatever might be left of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Conor Garland also came over in that deal, and was likely the centerpiece of it and taking on OEL’s increasingly smelly contract was the cost of doing business. In the process they were able to jettison Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel, so it kind of all comes out in the wash. The Pacific division is a complete moldering corpse, so this team might make it in by default, but it will certainly help their chances if JT Miller continues to play at a Selke level to take some responsibilities away from Petterson. However, this team did most recently lose to the loose conglomeration of the Detroit Red Wings, so anything is possible.

10/24 vs Red Wings

Game Time – 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network, SN1, WGN-AM 720
This Is Me Breathing – WIIM 

Speaking of which….those same Red Wings come to town on Sunday night. In a perpetual rebuild that has somehow not yet cost Jeff Blashill his job, the Wings once again have next to no expectations this year, and still basically only have Dylan Larkin to be concerned about. That being said, that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of blowing this Hawks team’s doors off in terms of burying them in shots as they did a couple times last year and as recently as a couple weeks ago in Detroit. The blade sharpens….

Hockey

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Game Times: 6:30PM (4/15, 4/17)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago (4/15), NBC Sports Chicago+, NHLN (4/17), WGN-AM 720
White Boy Rick: Winging It In Motown

With the trade deadline having now passed, both the Hawks and whatever is left of the Wings right now are hoping to get a look at what is on their roster that could possibly be useful in the future, with the added bonus of the visiting Hawks desperately needing both of the games this weekend in regulation in order for next week’s three game set with Nashville to mean a damn thing as far as any playoff aspirations are concerned.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 22 | Game 23
Game Logs:
Game 22 | Game 23
Natural Stat Trick:
Game 22 | Game 23

The Red Wings, last in the league for two seasons now, played well the first game against the Blackhawks this weekend. It’s not a good thing to let a team as offensively depleted as the Red Wings, without their captain Dylan Larkin, as many chances as the Hawks did, but that’s what happened this weekend. We recovered enough to not be a complete laughingstock last night, but it still wasn’t our best work. To the bullets.

  • Saturday’s game was of sloppy proportions, as both teams showed up and decided to play quite poorly. Passes weren’t connecting, there were takeaways and giveaways galore, and defense wasn’t a thing anybody was caring about.
  • I’m sure the recently demoted Nicolas Beaudin was just thrilled to watch Zadorov taking his NHL spot after watching him being singlehandedly at fault for Detroit’s first goal on Saturday, and then not being able to stop the Red Wings’ fifth goal, and then not being helpful for Detroit’s first goal last night. But at least he’s getting playing time in Rockford, am I right!
  • I really have about had it with this defensive structure or lack thereof. I know this is really and truly hard to believe, but FIRST-BALLOT HALL OF FAME GOLD MEDAL DEFENSEMAN DUNCAN KEITH does not need your help behind the goal. I know it’s hard to understand. You think maybe he does need your help and that it’s okay to abandon your guy. But he does not need your help and it’s not okay to abandon your guy. All you need to do is cover your guy and so many goals this season would not have happened. This is how a structured defense works. FIGURE IT OUT.
  • Carl Soderberg scored again Saturday, continuing to make it easier for the Hawks to sweeten the deal to get other teams to trade for him at the deadline. A 2nd or 3rd round pick, anyone? He’d be a great depth guy for a contending team. You know who to call.
  • Malcolm Subban was…well, not good on Saturday. Hard to watch. Bad to see. While this was happening, Collin Delia was simultaneously also letting five goals in the back of his net in Rockford, where the competition is theoretically easier than in the NHL. But he also hasn’t played for over a month, so let’s try to give him the benefit of the doubt for a little bit longer.
  • Meanwhile, Kevin Lankinen stopped over 40 shots last night in order to keep the Blackhawks in last night’s game. Did we mention the Red Wings aren’t supposed to be good offensively? What a series this was.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, the Blackhawks were able to reignite the dead Detroit powerplay, after they hadn’t scored on the powerplay in over a month and are ranked 31st in the league. Only a special team with killer instinct could allow this to happen. It was our pleasure to help you guys out with this.
  • The narrative this weekend was that Kane would be scoring his 400th goal, and it almost looked like it wasn’t gonna happen. Kane played a bit of a half-assed game on Saturday and had a nice assist on the Hawks’ third goal last night. But he was finally able to score his goal with 10 minutes left in the 3rd last night, and the Blackhawks decided to score three more before letting the Red Wings limp out of Chicago with a split series. Good work everyone.

Shhh, listen. Do you guys hear that in the distance? It’s the sound of the Tampa Bay Lightning actively destroying every team in their path and wanting to get more points against a defensively idiotic club like ours to separate themselves from the Panthers in the standings. The Blackhawks have a few days’ rest and then a triple-header against these guys, which should be nothing but high-quality entertainment, if only in that ironic sort of way. See you then.

Hockey

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Game Times: 7:00PM (2/27), 6:00PM (2/28)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network (2/28), WGN-AM 720
Big Money Rustlas: Winging It In Motown

As the Hawks and Jackets showed earlier in the week, even in an abbreviated, intra-division only schedule thanks to the interminable pestilence still keeping the world in its grip, it is still in fact possible to have a completely disinterested late-February snoozefest. It’s all about maintaining a sense of normalcy out there, and those two teams’ efforts were appreciated. And the drudgery continues this weekend with another two games against the visiting Red Wings, whom the Hawks played in Detroit just last week, and against whom the Hawks have half of their six (6) regulation wins in 21 games.

Hockey

Box Scores: Game 17 | Game 18
Game Logs: Game 17 | Game 18
Natural Stat Trick: Game 17 | Game 18

The scoresheet says the Hawks won these games, sure, but it is a bit concerning that they were losing the possession battle to the league’s bottomfeeding Detroit Red Wings four out of the six periods of hockey played. Something needs to be done about that. Let’s get to the bullets.

  • It’s never good news when the Red Wings are beating you in possession, but that’s exactly what happened in the 1st and 3rd periods of both The Red Wings had all the momentum in the 1st period Monday, sporting an obscene 73 CF%. Luckily, starter Malcolm Subban was able to make some important saves, long enough for the Hawks to score on their first shot thanks to a nifty Carl Soderberg pass to Mattias Janmark.
  • With numbers like those, it’s impressive the Hawks won the game in overtime, thanks to a late Dominik Kubalik five-hole with just 15 seconds left in extras. This is good news because the Blackhawks are trash in a shootout and very legitimately could have lost if it had come to that.
  • The Blackhawks also got domed in the 3rd period of Monday’s game to the tune of a 26 CF%, and the Wings also won the possession game in the 1st and 3rd periods of last night’s tilt at 55 and 59%, respectively. This is actually not a new trend, as a similar situation happened to the Blackhawks in the Blue Jackets game on the 11th. Generally, the Blackhawks seem to get crushed possession-wise but use their powerplay abilities to get past teams and win games in OT.
  • Brandon Hagel continues to shine in every way but scoring. On Monday night, Hagel had a great pass to Kubalik to get the second Blackhawks goal at the end of the 1st. We still await a goal of his own, but he’s definitely fun to watch.
  • The Red Wings powerplay really was the steaming pile of hot garbage the numbers told us it would be. I really thought I’d never see a powerplay as bad – worse, even – as the Hawks of yore, but this really was horrendous. Even more horrendous is that there’s an NHL team with a worse powerplay – congratulations, Minnesota Wild!
  • Speaking of Red Wings power plays, a too many men penalty while you are up a skater against a dumpster fire penalty kill team is completely unacceptable coaching-wise. We were lucky the Red Wings powerplay sucks enough that a goal wasn’t scored – against a good team, we would not have been so lucky.
  • The Blackhawks had another great powerplay goal last night by Philipp Kurashev, who received a pass by Duncan Keith and then outskated and outmaneuvered two Red Wings like it was nothing, going five-hole on Bernier. I like Kurashev and he’s just getting more and more fun to watch as he gets more confident on the ice.
  • If this had been literally any other team, that attempt with a little over four minutes left in the 3rd period of last night’s game would’ve been a goal. Lankinen slid way out of position and only by the grace of God did the Red Wings miss on a legitimately wide-open net.
  • I don’t know where the Hawks get off on playing Zadorov in the final minutes of every game, but please stop; it burns my eyes.

The Blackhawks head south on their road trip this weekend to battle the Carolina Hurricanes, who will not be as forgiving if we continue with these possession numbers (which we will). The Hawks are going to need to figure out a way to not flounder in this metric and also win games without going into extra time if they want to continue being a FUN PLAYOFF CONTENDER or whatever the journalists think this team is. Onward!

Hockey

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Game Times: 7:ooPM (1/22) , 11:30AM (1/24)
TV/Radio: NBCSN Chicago (1/22), NBC, TVA-S (1/24), WGN-AM 720
Big Money Rustlas: Winging It In Motown

Prior to the season starting, the common refrain was that the Hawks couldn’t be that bad, they’d be in the same division as the Red Wings, and they were ass on ice last year, so they’d at least be able to rack up a few wins against them. But the early returns a week into the season have shown that there will be no game the Hawks can’t find themselves capable of losing, and the Wings themselves are at least kinda sorta a little bit improved from last year.

Everything Else

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RECORDS: Detroit 21-27-7   Hawks 22-24-9

PUCK DROP: 2:00PM CST
TV/RADIO: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
JUGGALO HOMIES: Winging It In Motown

 

If there has been one schadenfraude-drenched upside to the last two years of the Hawks tripping over their own dicks at every conceivable juncture, it’s that the Red Wings have been equally inept, if not more so. Yes, most of the old wounds have healed, as silver tends to do that, particularly when eliminating them on the way to one, but anyone looking for emotional maturity has clearly been reading the wrong publication for over a decade now.

Entering today’s matinee, the Wings sit 14 points back of a wild card spot with a month and a half to play, essentially left for dead in the Eastern conference they so desperately wanted to play in. Just yesterday they lost another afternoon tilt in Buffalo, their second straight. One of the lone bright spots for the Wings has been Jimmy Howard, who’s had a bit of a renaissance this season with a .914 overall and an excellent .930 at evens, his best since the aforementioned abbreviated 2013 season, but he went yesterday in Buffalo. That means that Jonathan Bernier is likely to get the start today, and suffice it to say that Bernier is a step down from Howard, boasting an .898 overall and a .900 at evens. Even with goaltending taking a downturn league-wide, that’s still not enough from a backup.

In front of Bernier is a blue line that is somehow even more barren and desolate a wasteland than the Hawks. With no morning skate today, based on yesterday in Buffalo, the Wings will be trotting out a top pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green with a straight face in 2019, not 2009. Kronwall was always overrated and dirty, and now he’s lost more than a step and a half at 38 years old. Mike Green could probably still make a decent living as a third pairing bum slayer and power play quarterback, but he’s always been an adventure in his own zone and he can’t outscore those problems anymore. Danny DeKeyser is never going to be anything more than “a guy” no matter what the drunk dick from Perth Amboy at the bar shouts, and Jonathan Ericsson makes Seabrook look downright nimble these days. Unfortunately, Trevor Daley is hurt so he won’t be able to be recognized on the UC jumbotron during the first TV timeout.

Up front for the Wings, there are some decent pieces, but it’s just simply not enough now, particularly in the wake of Henrik Zetterberg‘s retirement. Dylan Larkin is the de facto #1 center right now, flanked by two of the worst contracts in the game in Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist. Larkin hasn’t quite grown into a true #1 yet, but he’s producing nearly a point per game (51P in 53 games) and certainly has all the talent to put it together by the time the Wings think they’ll be competitive again, and he’s still not even 23. Frans Nielsen centers the second line which features a somehow still employed Thomas Vanek back for a second tour of duty in Detroit (because the first time went so well) and Anthony Mantha on the other side, appears to basically be a Quebecois Hayes brother, providing 20 useless goals a season from a giant frame that intimidates no one. One of the best nicknames in the league and one of the fastest sets of wheels, Greece Lighning, Andreas Athanasiou continues to languish on the third line with known bums Luke Glendening and Darren “Ambulance 43” Helm. The Red Wings also have a fourth line.

As for the Men of Four Feathers, Thursday night marked their sixth win in a row, which no one is sure if it means a goddamn thing yet. They did so giving up 40 shots to the equally putrid Canucks and had to get to the bullshit that is 3-on-3 to decide things. But points are points, considering that A) this draft isn’t that deep past Jack Hughes, and B) the league is going to rig that he plays for his home town team anyway, which just happens to be the Hawks’ opponent today. The one thing that continues to hum along for the Hawks is the power play, and fortunately the Wings’ PK is only marginally better than the Hawks’, though Jonathan Bernier has been relatively respectable on the kill with an .883 save percentage.

Lines from Saturday’s skate appeared the same as the last game, but it was notable that Corey Crawford briefly took the ice and partook in team drills if only for about 20 minutes sharing a net with Collin Delia, which would seem to indicate that Cam Ward would get the start. What a time to be alive.

The Hawks didn’t get any favors from the Blues on Thursday or the Wild yesterday, but it’s still too goddamn early to be scoreboard watching in that regard. A tank is basically out of the question at this point, and it’s better for the players already on this roster to develop by winning, particularly against eminently beatable teams such as this Scum bunch. Take care of business. Seven is better than six.

Game #56 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 6:30 CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN (Chicago & National), WGN-AM 720
Mom’s Spaghetti: Winging It In Motown 

With the homestand that spanned the the bye week now sufficiently flushed down the crapper, the Hawks hit the road again for their inaugural visit to Little Caesar’s Palace in Detroit, or The House That $5 Hot and Readies Built, to face the Red Wings for something that is supposed to vaguely resemble a rivalry.