Hockey

Atop The Sugar Pile 11/4 – How Are Things On The West Coast?

The Dizzying Highs

Robin Lehner – This might be a touch weird to put a goalie who merely went 1-1 over the week here, and even the good “1” was an OT win against an unimpressive Ducks squad. But Lehner stopped 84 of 89 shots he saw in two games…let’s let that marinate for a moment…and had he not been at the top of his game the Hawks would have been on the ass end of an embarrassing result that would have had the whole league talking for a week. Even last night he held off a charge from the Ducks that could have resulted in the Hawks leaving SoCal with just one point instead of three.

Strange fact I learned yesterday, in the past four seasons Lehner has the third-best SV% of all goalies. Better than Vasilevskiy and right behind John Gibson. And that’s with a couple different teams, so he can’t be called a systems-goalie. He got that label by playing for Barry Trotz for a year, and the Hawks were able to use that as cover for a pretty good bargain, and getting better as their defense continue to turn every offense they see into the Bolivian army while Butch Lehner and Sundance Crawford reload in the corner of the building. The Hawks couldn’t be much worse off than they are, but they would firmly have their face in the toilet if it wasn’t for Lehner.

The Terrifying Lows

Andrew Shaw – We obviously had some trepidation when Shaw was reacquired, because it smacked of A. once again subpar pro scouting from the Hawks who again defaulted to “Hey I know that guy!” and B. wanting to cash in and sell tickets to the nostalgia crowd, even though they also say every ticket is also sold. Still, Shaw’s underlyings playing with Max Domi and Brendan Gallagher last year were good, and he has a skillset that the Hawks, in theory, could really use. Yes, signed for multiple years, but we could squint and see it if we ignored the name and number on the jersey.

Guess we know who was doing the real work in Montreal.

Shaw hasn’t been anything he was supposed to be–he hasn’t been a puck-winner, he hasn’t shown what used to be nifty hands around the net, and he hasn’t even really been an irritant to anyone except his own team and fans. The only thing that we recognize are the dumb, lazy, offensive zone penalties that seem to be cropping up because Shaw can’t keep the pace. He’s been a black hole, culminating in playing just seven minutes last night on the fourth line, where he managed a 30% Corsi and a 7(!) xGF%. Seven.

Clearly Coach Cool Youth Pastor has had it, and rightly so. But that’s ok, Shaw’s still signed for two more years to remind people of that time he bled from the face in Boston and played after getting knocked out cold, which is a totally healthy and responsible thing for a player to do and a team to let him do.

The Creamy Middles

Alex Nylander – Though it’s going to cost me a Greektown dinner in the spring, Nylander has been solid in California after being a horror-show in Tennessee. Though none of his teammates could escape that moniker either. Two assists in the two games, earning his way to play with the big boys, and one of the few Hawks who look like they can play at NHL speed. Getting better at making plays in traffic and not just needing space to do it. Now that we’re out of October and the grind starts to set in we’ll get a better idea, but solid production is needed from more wingers and he’s provided it.

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