As if the previous week and a half wasn’t enough to seal it from an intellectual and emotional standpoint, the Hawks losing both games to the Panthers this weekend has them on the brink of mathematical elimination as well, and are only spared by having scraped their way into OT on Thursday with the net empty. But if nothing else, these two games were ideal outcomes – some kids put more on tape (for both good and bad), and the glaring flaws both behind the bench and with the roster are also put on a display in a competitive game against an obviously better team that they lose. Obviously wins are more fun, but when the process matches the results. This team cannot afford to risk learning the wrong lessons with the complete dope behind the bench they’ve got currently.
- Among the YOUTS who has given the front office something to ponder next year was Adam Gaudette, who had himself a nice weekend, and has 4 points in 3 games with the Hawks since coming over for Matthew goddamn Highmore. When the deal was made at the time, it was seen as a huge upside play especially considering that Highmore is at most a 12th or 13th forward, and Gaudette’s playmaking ability was put on display during the rush that led to a gorgeous pass to give DeBrincat a wide open net. Granted, the line change the Cats executed that allowed Gaudette the room to gain the line with speed probably gave Quenneville another heart attack, but the fact of the matter is he took advantage of it. Gaudette’s biggest drawback at the pro level has been that he’s been god awful in his own zone with the metrics to prove it, but if moved to a wing in a secondary scoring role, he clearly has the skill to produce.
- On the other end of the spectrum, it’s still a mystery as to why the team was in such a huge rush to give Riley Stillman three goddamn years, but since he’s signed that deal he’s been nothing but a turnover leading to a goal waiting to happen. Furthermore, he gave up on the play that led to Gusev’s second goal last night, which should be a benchable offense if the Hawks had a real coach, which they do not.
- Speaking of god awful metrics, as a team in two games, the Hawks were out-attempted 5v5 128 to 65, for a cool 33.7% Corsi. So yeah, maybe not having Sasha Barkov for those two games back in March might have made a difference.
- Believe it or not, the Mute Lounge was actually closed for a bit last night in an effort to hear what the Very Handsome Patrick Sharp had to contribute as a color commentator. And while the stories of him pranking Foley (and everyone else) on the road over a decade ago now are always fun, once the game got competitive again, he was certainly capable, if a little stiff. Foley clearly invigorated by the experience, as well, trying to do a little coaching and cajoling on air the way an old pro helping out a newbie would. It’s clear Pat is still the best in the damn business when he wants to be, but a decade of grabassing with Olczyk and the team’s downturn have clearly led him to hang Boers’ “I’m Not Interested” sign more often than not. A new partner who is not Steve Konroyd could go a long way to getting the Foley everyone wants to hear back.
- So very glad Nikita Zadorov is taking minutes away from any one of the 748 under 25 defensemen the Hawks have stockpiled and need to self-scout to see who they can flip for other assets, even in garbage games playing out the string. His decision to attack a puck carrier that Connor Murphy already was fronting at the defensive blue line allowed Anthony DuClair to skate through the entire offensive zone untouched with one 12 foot pass. Just absolutely moronic shit from one of the biggest rock heads this team has had in recent memory.
- Up next is a three game set in Raleigh with the red hot Canes who are making a push for both the division and the President’s trophy. The next Preds win or Hawks loss officially eliminates them, at which point one would have to guess Colin Delia gets another couple of games and some vets get some off games, in which case these games could be UGLY. However, with fans actually back in the building next week to close it out against Dallas and the opportunity to either screw them or Nashville out of a playoff spot one way or another will likely get full attention.