Everything Else

I don’t know what the hell the Hawks were doing at the beginning of the game, but a slow start pretty much screwed them. They followed that up with a lot of dumb penalties, making life harder for themselves, but had it not been for some abject stupidity right after puck drop we may have had a game. Oh, and Michal Kempny exacted his revenge, that did it too. To the bullets:

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Natural Stat Trick

– Of course it was Tom fucking Wilson taking advantage of the Hawks looking drunk and clueless at the start of the first. Of course it was. And not only did this anthropomorphized turd score less than a minute in, he also made sure to barrel over Crawford and knee him in the head. Fuck Tom Wilson. The fact that he’s even playing right now is an affront to decency. This league is a toilet.

– Something ridiculous happened to me the other day: I walked into an elevator at my office building, the lone dude who had been in it walked off said elevator, and as I went in, pressed the button and breathed, the smell of fart was unmistakable. As the doors closed he looked fearfully over his shoulder and definitely saw my twisted, disgusted face looking back at him with an “I know what you did!” expression. The Hawks were that guy in the first period. They laid a huge fart, and then tried to coolly walk away pretending like nobody noticed. Once the first couple minutes were over and Andre Burakovsky made it 2-0 with a power play goal, the Hawks pulled it together and got a flurry of shots on goal (after having none for about half the period). They ended up only slightly underwater in possession (47.5 CF%, all day not just evens), which was quite the accomplishment given the way it started. And yet just when it seemed like they were bouncing back, Saad high-sticked Nicklas Backstrom, which inexplicably was called an elbow, and inexplicably was argued by both Saad and Toews. Whatever.

– I’m dismissive of that silliness because Brandon Saad continued his resurgence with his third goal in as many games. It was a beautiful move just de-pantsing Orlov about mid-way through the second period. At that point the Hawks were down 3-0 so not only was it great to see Saad doing what we’ve been waiting for him to do (and consistently), but it briefly gave us, and the Hawks, some hope. And that was the mistake.

– You know how it was 3-0 when Saad scored? That’s because Michal Kempny got his first goal of the year against the Hawks. And later, in the third, he made a great play in the neutral zone to prevent a breakaway (by Anisimov who would have tripped over his own dick anyway but that’s beside the point), and it led immediately to the fourth goal, effectively ending the Hawks chances at making it a game. Well, they had in fact made it a game with Gustafsson’s goal in the third, but Smith-Pelly’s just moments later, thanks to Kempny’s defensive prowess, crushed the Hawks. And I can’t even be mad at him for it.

– This isn’t a hot take, but jeebus the Hawks are top heavy when it comes to offense. The Saad-Toews-Kane line led all four lines with eight shots, and they had over a 60 CF% at evens. Loading up on the top line isn’t necessarily wrong—it just underlines how empty the rest of the offense is. On the bright side, the second line of Schmaltz-Anisimov-DeBrincat generated the pass that led to Gustafsson’s goal, so at least Wide Dick and Nick Schmaltz got assists.

– And that’s good for Schmaltz because, if the broadcast is a reflection of the company line, then the organ-I-zation hates him these days. I know it’s a little conspiracy-theorist of me, but Eddie has been unrelentingly bad-mouthing Schmaltz these last few games which just makes me think they’re priming the ground for getting rid of him. It’s no secret Schmaltz has been struggling lately, with only nine points on the season so far. Yet seven of those points came when he was on the ice with Patrick Kane, so the source of the drought seems to clearly be sticking him on the wing and on a line without a top scorer where he (Schmaltz) can be a playmaker. I get why Colliton is going with Toews and Kane on a line, and the change doesn’t absolve Schmaltz of all responsibility for generating SOMETHING on offense. But the ire over Schmaltz from the broadcast really needs to be put in perspective, and unless they can package him as part of a season-changing deal, launching a young guy out of frustration is probably not the ideal move here.

– The power play still sucks. In case you were wondering.

We shouldn’t be all that surprised that the current Stanley Cup champions beat this group of schlubs, even if those champions are still drunk from the summer. But still, the sloppy start is maddening, and for a team with talent issues like the Hawks, having to dig yourself out of a hole basically as soon as the game starts just isn’t acceptable. And now it’s on to an even better team in the Lightning. Just get drunk and the weekend will go by in a blur. Onward and upward.

Beer: Totally Naked by New Glarus, followed by Myrcenary from Odell when I really needed a higher alcohol content.

Line of the Night: “Here’s your so-called second line…” —Foley throwing shade at Schmaltz, and Wide Dick and Top Cat by association.

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Everything Else

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Natural Stat Trick

This game adequately proved why the NHL will always be a Riot Fest porta-potty to the rest of the sports-watching world. On the 20th anniversary of The Big Lebowski, it’s appropriate to say that we’re all nihilists. We believe in nothing. To the bullets of this garbage display from the worst sports league on Earth.

– Let’s get to it. At first, the Saad no goal looked like the right call. He made a kicking motion. It was obvious. But our Fearless Leader made a good point over on Twitter dot com, saying that unless the NHL had conclusive evidence that the puck DIDN’T touch Saad’s stick, the goal ought to have stayed good. And that IS the rule. The call on the ice ought to stand unless there’s conclusive evidence otherwise.

All the original angles didn’t really give any indication. But living in Colorado, I had front row seats for the Colorado feed, which had an overhead angle of the goal. If you watch the video, it’s pretty clear that the puck touches Saad’s stick on its way over. So once again, the NHL can’t zip a pair of fucking sweatpants without getting its dick caught in a zipper that only they would have on a pair of fucking sweatpants.

But the most unbelievable thing about all of this is that THE NHL WAR ROOM DIDN’T HAVE THAT ANGLE. How the FUCK DOES THE WAR ROOM NOT HAVE THAT ANGLE? As a multi-billion dollar league. As a league that says over and over again that it wants to be taken seriously. As a league that waters down each and every team for the sake of faux parity to get casual fans to watch their Burger-King-toilet-after-a-cocaine-and-soft-cheese binge of a product because anyone who’s anyone knows what a burning orphanage the NHL is. How do you not have that angle?

This is a game with playoff implications for the Avalanche. Granted, the call ended up going for them, but isn’t the whole premise of the NHL that “our playoffs are the best”? And you want to overturn calls that shouldn’t be overturned because the people who make the decisions on that call don’t have the one fucking angle they need, an angle that the broadcasters for the Avalanche—who work out of the backroom of one of the 69,000 dispensaries we have on each and every fucking corner of this state—did? On what fucking planet is that acceptable?

The NHL’s integrity on things off the ice has always been a used condom dangling over a chicken-processing-plant’s open-top dumpster after a long, hard summer rain, so it’s fitting that its on-ice product, which when done right is as fulfilling as cunnilingus on top of an ice cream cake, has begun to reflect that. I hope the next strike never ends.

Fuck the NHL. Eat Arby’s.

– OK, now that that’s done, let’s talk about the Blackhawks. Connor Murphy had an exemplary game, and has supplanted Duncan Keith as the Hawks’s #1 D-Man in my view. His only boner was the penalty he took in the second that led to MacKinnon’s goal, and it was a bad penalty. But aside from that, he shut the MacKinnon line down, which is no small feat. He was also the calming presence on the ice, as Keith consistently found himself turning the puck over in his own zone. It’s neat and bittersweet to watch a changing of the guard on one pairing.

– We give Erik Gustafsson an awful lot of shit for sucking at defense, but I see offensive upside when he’s on the ice with Garbage Dick. On his goal, he was trying to make a saucer pass to Kane, who was wide open on the far side for a tip. It happened to go off Nemeth’s skate, but it also looked on target for Kane. Then in the second, he made another quality pass that Kane tipped and Varlamov managed to stick away. If you look at Gustafsson as an offensive defenseman, the extension might make a bit more sense.

– Brandon Saad was an unstoppable force tonight. Despite getting his dick punched on that shitty, inexcusable overturned goal, he was everywhere tonight. He drove the net with power several times, most noticeably in the first and second. He ended the night with a 58+ CF%, and the last time I checked in the second—because I was too goddamn furious to watch the third—he was hovering in the 70s or 80s.

– My Cousin Vinnie does just about everything except score these days. He was on the plus-side of the CF% ledger, and had two particularly good plays. The first was about midway through the first period. He took the puck through the neutral zone, then lost it. Instead of panicking, he skillfully lifted the defender’s stick, took the puck, and continued on like nothing happened.

In the third, he completed a gorgeous Spin-o-Rama to get the puck to a streaking DeBrincat, who caught some bad luck in Varlamov and couldn’t put it away. Still, you have to like what you’re seeing out of a confident Vinnie.

– J-F Berube was outstanding tonight. There’s not much he can do about MacKinnon’s goal, with MacKinnon being a Hart candidate standing alone on Seabrook’s side on the PK and Seabrook being Seabrook. He ended up with 33 saves on 34 shots against a team desperate for points on a playoff drive. He’s only had three games—two great and one statistical stinker—but hell if he’s not making a case to be the backup.

The NHL is a toilet. The officials are horseshit. The war room is an affront. But the Hawks won, and The Big Lebowski is on somewhere, so we’ll call it a win.

Beer du Jour: Tommyknocker Blood Orange, followed by straight pulls from the Jefferson’s bottle.

Line of the Night: “They had no overhead. At both ends . . . or one of the ends . . . so they can’t use it.” –Peter McNab, describing why Saad’s goal got overturned.