Who was good, who was bad, and who was just running heavy, heavy fuel this past week.
The Dizzying Highs
Patrick Kane – Much like last year, we could just put him in this spot every week and it would almost certainly never be wrong. Four goals, seven points in three games, which kept him top ten in the scoring race. If the Hawks were even close to the playoffs, he’d probably drumming up MVP talk again, because he’s had to do it with so many different teammates who are either having off years or just plain suck. McDavid has Draisaitl, MacKinnon has, at least part of the season, Makar and Rantanen. Huberdeau has Barkov. Even Jack Eichel has had Olofsson, though not anymore. Alex DeBrincat could argue to at least be standing outside this club begging the bouncer to let him in, but Kane hasn’t spent all that much time on his line. Toews was off when Kane was there, and now it’s Ryan Carpenter and Sikura. But I digress. Kane’s rocketing toward another 100-point season, which would be his third. Since he came into the league, the only players to have three 100-point seasons are Crosby, McDavid, Malkin, and Ovechkin. Worse company to be in.
The Terrifying Lows
Dennis Gilbert – This probably isn’t fair to him per se, because he is what he is. And it’s hard for even me to reconcile that Gilbert is vomit-on-ice, and yet the Hawks have nothing to lose by playing him every night. Still, he was on the ice for four goals against in Vancouver, and routinely is either chasing hits that put him out of position, lazily getting back to the front of the net, or both. Oh and he’s slow. But again, he didn’t force anyone to put him in a position he’s clearly no way equipped for. And fuck, he watched Brent Seabrook do this for years, so how can we blame him for emulating that?
The Creamy Middles
Dylan Sikura – Look, if him scoring his first NHL goal and the reaction from him and his teammates after didn’t bring a smile to your face at least, then I don’t really know why you even watch sports in the first place. There’s no way it wasn’t weighing on him, and even the organization could use it as a cudgel against him, or at least an excuse to ignore all the stuff that Sikura does do. He’s no star-in-the-making, but Sikura can be a useful bottom-six player on a good team. Perhaps a Michael Frolik type. He has NHL-level speed, which the Hawks sorely lack. He doesn’t need a GPS in his own zone, and there’s more skill than his waiting a year for a goal would suggest. Hopefully breaking that chain will give him the confidence and relax him a bit to let it all hang out, because you feel like there’s more there. Unlike Alex Nylander, whom he has replaced in the lineup, Sikura isn’t afraid to play in tight spaces despite his small size and he has actual instincts. Hopefully he gets a long look and pots a few goals, because he’s doing more than immediately meets the eye.