The playoffs may be a distant memory, but that’s no reason not to peer into the smoldering remains of the dumpster fire that is this lineup. We’ve only got one more week after this! Shall we?
The Dizzying Highs
Alex DeBrincat. After a brief slump and enduring inexplicable line nonsense from Beto O’Colliton (those two issues are seemingly not unrelated), Top Cat bounced back with a strong week. His goal Saturday against the Kings was one of those where it looked too easy, and in the win over the Sharks he scored twice, including on a 5-on-3. He and Dylan Strome have maintained their chemistry, when their coach deigns to play them together, but even on the third line against the Kings he managed a goal and a 52 CF%. He’s now tied with Patrick Kane for leading the team in goals. We’ve basically come to expect this performance of him at this point, but as Pullega said the other night, one of the few bright spots is that DeBrincat is someone to build around going forward, and this week was a reminder.
The Terrifying Lows
Brendan Perlini. I guess it’s a little unfair to throw him into the Terrifying Lows, and maybe it’s unfair of Colliton to demote him so quickly and angrily, but there’s no denying that Perlini’s recent hot streak may have been just that—a streak. He basically exploded in early March in shots, scoring chances, and of course goals, but starting last weekend he reverted much closer to his baseline (1, 2, 4, 0 SOG since the Colorado home-and-home). His possession numbers have tanked as well, and following a dumbass turnover and overall shitty performance against the Sharks, he got benched late in that game and then basically sent to the corner with a dunce cap to think about what he did, both for the Kings game and against the Jets. Is Perlini really the biggest issue on this team? Not even close. But a bad week is a bad week.
The Seabrook-Forsling Pairing. If there is one silver lining to the impending end of the season, it is that we will not have to watch these two clowns skate together for at least a few months. Hopefully we’ll never have to see it again, but I remain pessimistic. Brent Seabrook was underwater in possession for basically an entire week. He’s taken five penalties in the last four games, including one that led to the Coyotes’ only (and game-winning) goal. Forsling hasn’t been any better—sure, he hasn’t taken as many ridiculously bad penalties in these last few but he’s been a turnover machine and is still generally offensive to the eyes when watching him. Any blabbering about Jokiharju or any of the other baby defensemen not being ready rings pretty damn hollow watching these two.
The Creamy Middles
Brandon Saad. Saad hasn’t scored in a while but he did log two assists against the Sharks, and maybe more importantly he’s just been playing reliably well. His possession numbers have been outstanding and he even came close to setting up Dylan Sikura for what is now the most impossible goal in hockey, Sikura’s first. He’s been a force for good in these dark times, whether on the top line or not.
Corey Crawford. Maybe he hasn’t been completely lights out lately, but when you’re getting hosed by your teammates and still manage to keep them in the game, that says something. For example, none of the goals against the Kings could really be pinned on Crawford. Wagner and Amadio both ran past defensemen who were 1) slow and 2) totally out of position, while the winning goal was an OT power play goal thanks to a terrifically stupid penalty by Jonathan Toews. Toews then continued the stupidity against the Jets with a trip on Mark Scheifele who got a penalty shot as a result. And Crawford stopped it. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been better than the numbers may say. And he deserves much better than what he’s getting to work with.