I guess that’s what you’d call the first speed bump of the season. If that speed bump came to life and chomped on your skull for like an hour while you just sat there contemplating the meaninglessness of it all. At least that was last night. It saw the Hawks suffer their first two regulation losses of the season. Though it did include their first regulation win. So yeah…this season is weird. Anyway, let’s see what was bad, what was good, and what was right where it should be.
The Dizzying Highs
Alex DeBrincat – Able to remain above the fray, and I feel like we’re going to say that for most of the season. Set up the only goal they got against the Coyotes, scored against the Jackets to put the Hawks ahead (admittedly one Bobrovsky should have had, but the hands and quickness to get to that spot and get that shot off after a middling pass from Kahun was worthy or reward). Top Cat’s scoring-streak came to a stop last night, as did any illusion about this team, but he was still the Hawks best skater this week and has been all season. I also love the added bonus of scouts and pundits trying to wheel-pose themselves to cover their ass for not thinking or making him a first-round pick because he happens to be small in a league that’s getting more and more away from size.
Oh hey, the only three players who have outscored Top Cat from that draft are Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, and Matthew Tkachuk, and all have played a season more than he has. Everyone can go pound.
The Terrifying Lows
The Entire Defense – Boy, this is going to be the subject of several posts this week I feel, and certainly the subject of this week’s podcast (recording tonight, send in your questions!). The Hawks were basically mullered for both games on the weekend, and had Corey Crawford to thank for any points they got let alone the two they did. Cam Ward had the unusual feat of giving up five goals and still maintaining a 900 SV% last night. I’m not even sure how mad you can get about the actual players, because they are what they are and have been. Duncan Keith is old. Henri Jokiharju‘s balls haven’t dropped, at least in a hockey sense. Jan Rutta, Brandon Manning, and Brandon Davidson (at this point we should just call them, “Davidson Manning” because really what the fuck does it matter?) are big bags of suck. Seabrook is old too, and Gustafsson is a cowboy. There really are no surprises here.
No, the anger should be at a front office that thought this was an acceptable defensive corps to toss out there with a straight face and still run your “One Goal” ads about a revival season coming (while knowing Connor Murphy was going to miss two months!), and a coach who is still insistent on a defensive and breakout system this group has no hope of being able to run. And really, it won’t work in this league any more. The Hawks coach needs to adjust his system to his players, not the other way around. Until that happens, nights like Sunday are not going to be isolated incidents. You’ll be reading a lot more about this in the coming days.
The Creamy Middles
Corey Crawford – It may seem harsh to not put Crow in the “Dizzying Highs” category. Because he was really good in both of this games this week. But here’s the thing: Corey Crawford is really good. Vezina-worthy performances don’t really surprise me, because he’s a Vezina-worthy goalie. Sure, the fact that they came after 10 months out is startling, and unexpected. But the actual games themselves are what Crow has been serving up for four or five seasons now. Maybe having gone without him so long people will realize just what he means to this team while he can still do it. The Hawks can put Toews and Kane on their marketing drive all they want. The player whose importance to his team rises to the level of Bryant, Rizzo, Mack, Trubisky, Eloy is Crawford. That’s just how it be, kids.