It’s time yet again to look at the good, the bad, and the mildly disappointing as the Hawks return from their East Coast swing during this now-finished Thanksgiving week…
The Dizzying Highs
Brandon Saad: I’m honestly not sure that anyone deserves to be considered a “dizzying high” right now, but someone has to be in this part of the post so fine, let it be Brandon Saad. Again. That’s right—Saad has been atop this pile for two weeks in a row. Yes, there were issues with the nuclear option of him, Toews, and Kane on a line, namely being on the ice for multiple Lightning goals on Friday, yet his performance Saturday was enough to overcome that. The gorgeous pass to Kane in the second, the equally if not better one to Alex DeBrincat to save the game in dramatic fashion…this man fucks, my frents. Five points in his last five games, hell, he even made John Hayden look good last Saturday. As of this writing, his shooting percentage is a career-high 13.5, and despite all the line drama he’s still managing a 55.1 CF%, currently third-best on the team. He fucks.
The Terrifying Lows
Marcus Kruger. Of all the players brought back from the dead by this team, Marcus Kruger was the only one I was actually happy to see return. But I have to admit he’s been awfully quiet lately. No one expects a fourth-line scoring juggernaut, but the problem is he’s not really succeeding at the role he’s here to play. He’s got the third-highest PK minutes on the team, yet his CF Rel on the kill is -7.8. I know, it’s the penalty kill, obviously the other team is more likely to score, but for reference, Seabrook’s PK CF Rel is 6.3, and the stat for Brandon fucking Manning, who only has six fewer seconds of PK time than Kruger, is 12.5. No, there’s no minus sign in front of that. Kruger’s possession numbers at evens are troubling too—a career-worst 46.6 CF% right now. Granted, just over 80% of his starts are in the defensive zone, but he’s had similar start numbers in years past and finished closer to or above 50%. Besides, taking a shitload of defensive zone starts and holding onto the puck anyway is his actual job description. Maybe he needs confidence. Maybe he needs better linemates than oafs like Andreas Martinsen (well, he definitely needs that regardless of any numbers). Whatever it is, I hope it’s temporary.
The Creamy Middles
Alexandre Fortin. My earnest little Fortnite has had an interesting week or so. His short-handed goal against the Panthers was darling and gave the Hawks some much-needed hope in a game that was looking like a puke stain meant to be hidden under a rug or cleverly placed piece of furniture (no I’m not speaking from experience, why would you even say that?). Conversely, his broken stick against the Lightning, while not entirely his fault, was emblematic of his enthusiasm yet lack of finish. Still, Fortin is sporting a positive Corsi (52.8 at evens) with a little over half his starts coming in the defensive zone. And, he’s been fast on whatever line he finds himself on—with fellow children Kampf and Kahun, or bouncing around with whatever Scrabble letters Colliton comes up with on a given night. He’s still just a speedy bottom-six guy, but we’ll take all the help we can get.