Hockey

VS 

 

Records: Predators 19-18-1 (39) Hawks 17-16-5 (39)

Puck Drops: 2:00 pm

TV/Radio: NBCSN and WGN 720

Why Don’t You Have A Seat Over There: On The Forecheck 

 

As if things weren’t bad enough, the Hawks reward for pissing away points against the Hurricanes in the last 30 seconds in game two on Thursday night is another game against the team that owns them up and down the ice, the Nashville Predators. The last meeting against Smashville went about as poorly as you could think, and if it wasn’t for the impressive effort of Alex DeBrincat most likely would’ve resulted in the Hawks only netting a single goal.

Nashville just plays the type of game that completely pulls apart whatever you would call the breakout “system” employed by Jerry Manuel-Colliton. The forecheck of the Preds completely exposes the inability of the Hawks D  to move the puck out of their own zone. A large majority of the goals scored by Nashville in the last series came off of panicked turnovers by Hawks players in front of their goalie as they tried to fire the puck up and out of the zone by going right up the middle of the ice. This resulted in interceptions by fuckwaddles like Rocco Grimaldi, and were usually deposited right behind Kevin Lankinen.

So what can the Hawks do to flip the script on the Preds? By trading Brad Morrison to the Panthers and bringing back Vinny Hinostroza, duh! On the surface, this is pretty much a nothing trade for the Hawks, as Morrison hasn’t been anything of note. That being said, it’s the most Stan Bowman thing ever to bring back yet another former player. There’s definitely a spot for Hinostroza right now, since everyone’s favorite 3rd liner Brandon Hagel was thrown into the league’s COVID-19 protocol on Friday. Hinostroza plays a very similar North/South style game to Hagel, and the fact that Stan jumped on the phone to replace him this quickly makes me think that Hagel may be out for an extended period. This should not, however, be taken as a sign that the Hawks are going to be buyers at the deadline. The price for Vinny was essentially zero, so Stan can still try and keep the Hawks in the mix and yet gain assets next week by trading players that aren’t going to be part of the plan (whatever that may be) going forward.

As it stands right now, both the Hawks and Preds have the same amount of points, but Nashville has the tiebreaker thanks to the fact that they have the stunning ability to earn points during regulation, a feat that continues to elude the Hawks. After their single game this weekend, the Preds schedule (other than 3 more against the Hawks and two against the Scum) turns more difficult with matches against Florida, Carolina and Tampa all on the docket. It will be very interesting to see what the Preds do a week from Monday when the trade deadline rolls around. Both teams have to know what awaits them even if they make the postseason, so I can’t imagine Nashville being buyers, as hilarious as it would be.

Regardless of what they decide to do at the deadline, if either team has deigns of making the dance they’ll have to stake their claim over the next few weeks against each other. Based on what’s transpired thus far, I don’t like the Hawks’ chances. We’ve yet to see any adjustment by Jeremy Colliton to alleviate the pressure created by the Preds forecheck. As the guys mentioned in the podcast this week, even doing something simple like chipping the puck up and out of the zone off the boards and allowing the faster skaters like DeBrincat to roll with it could help. Really, I’d just like to see ANYTHING different than the piss poor shenanigans that define the defensive breakouts thus far. It’s not a super high bar to clear, but I’m also not holding my breath.

Two very important points sit out there for the taking this weekend, hoping they can get it done but also not gonna place any bets on it.

Let’s Go Hawks

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Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

Corsica

Tonight the Hawks showed up and seemed actually interested in playing hockey. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough, in what was a disappointing follow-up to last night, and a weird reversal of Wednesday night, where they weren’t interested at all yet managed to pull out an overtime win. Well, to the bullets:

–Forsberg made one mistake too many or else he would have had a solid game. Anderson’s goal in the third was one that he should want back, and that’s the one that made the difference. Prior to that goal, Forsberg was screened on the Atkinson’s goal in the first, which wasn’t really his fault. Early in the second he had a sequence of good saves, including on Jordan Oesterle, who tried really hard to score an own goal. But, Forsberg finished the night with a sub-par .897 SV%, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing the J-F Berube Show soon enough.

–Our Cousin Vinny had a strong performance—in fact, his entire line did once again, in whatever composition that ended up being throughout the game. Hinostroza had an assist on Kampf’s goal in the first, and he hit the post twice in the second. Granted, his pass to Nachos was intercepted and that’s what turned into Dubois’ tying goal. But he bounced back with more chances in the third, and generally looked like a coked-up gerbil, as we’ve come to expect out of him. Plus he had a 69.6 CF% (NICE).

–Ryan Hartman took an untimely penalty late in the first, which led to Atkinson’s goal, and he was summarily benched for the rest of the game. I get that Q was pissed, and it was definitely irritating at the time, but the punishment was way out of proportion to the crime. It wasn’t even an egregious hook—it could have easily been a non-call, especially since they let Oesterle slide on a way-more-egregious interference on a breakaway (which also could have been called a hook) early in the first. The reasons this overreaction is bullshit are 1) is he really going to become a better player by getting benched after a ticky-tack call? and 2) Hinostroza to Hartman to Kampf resulted in the first goal, and that was minutes into the game. If these guys had more time to work together, maybe we could have scored more than one measly goal following that one.  But no, Q had to SEND A MESSAGE.

–Tomas Jurco got his first goal (anyone? anyone out there want this guy??), and it was off a beautiful feed from Gustafsson way back in the defensive zone. So that was fun.

–Sergei Bobrovsky had a .939 SV% and definitely kept the Jackets in the game, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m taking anything away from him. But damn the Hawks couldn’t hit the net. They ended the night with 33 shots on goal, but it should have easily been 10 higher than that if they could hit the proverbial broad side of a barn.

–Connor Murphy had a somewhat better game than last night. He finished with a 55.2 CF% and didn’t make any dumbass blunders. So that was fun too.

–We managed to out-shit the worst power play in the league. Columbus came into this game ranked dead last on the man advantage, with the Hawks at a sterling 29th. Yet, the Jackets scored on the only power play they had (that aforementioned Hartman penalty), and the Hawks went 0-for-3 with their usual dismal power play performance.

I suppose it’s frustrating that the Hawks couldn’t fuck with the Jackets more and take them out of that last playoff spot, because fuck those guys, that would have been funny. But honestly, the Jackets may do that to themselves, and at this point if we miss out on points, it’s kinda, well, pointless, for lack of a better term. I feel bad for individual guys who genuinely tried but couldn’t pull it out, but at least they made an attempt tonight. Onward.

Beer de jour: Beach Blonde by Crystal Lake Brewing

Line of the Night: This one is dumped in…will there be a retrieval? —Foley, asking what we’re all wondering on a power play zone entry.