There is no use ignoring what is clearly the biggest sports story in at least a decade, and that is the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while the NBA had already been a bit more active in getting out ahead of things even with both the visiting Sharks and the Blue Jackets declaring their intent to play in front of empty buildings, the NHL still is insisting to this very moment that games will not be postponed or cancelled even as news of the NBA bringing things to a halt due to the infection in the Jazz locker room broke during the game. It feels like this might be the last game for the forseeable future, as shit is becoming real at a break neck pace. Both teams played like they were distracted for periods, and while the Hawks may have sold every ticket, it was sparse crowd that was even visible from TV. If nothing else, the Hawks braintrust will use the outbreak as a crutch to finally announce the sellout streak is over, and then brag that it took an act of god (or Satan) to halt them. With the win tonight the Hawks still remain mathematically alive, but then again, aren’t we all at this point?
- To the two debuts tonight. Former first rounder Nicolas Beaudin and newly-minted ass rash Brandon Hagel not only both got their first look in the show tonight, but actually got to start, because apparently Jeremy Suhonen is feeling generous these days. Both clearly had the adrenaline pumping early, as Hagel couldn’t finish a late developing 2 on 1 with Kirby Dach, and Beaudin had a few meanderings both well below the rings and even to partner Duncan Keith’s side, but both became less noticeable as the game wore on. It of course remains curious that Vinny Del Colliton would throw Beaudin into the deep end right away playing on his off side as a lefty opposite Duncan Keith on the defacto top pairing, but given what the rest of the corps looked like without Boqvist tonight, there weren’t much better options.
- It has to be said once again, but if this was the last the home crowd got to see of Corey Crawford, then it was a signature performance. Both goals were no-chance against him, the first being at the tail end of a 5 on 3, and the latter being a puck picked out of a scrum that OF COURSE beat him glove hand, but when the game was still even or close in the first, Crawford made multiple sprawling saves to keep things close enough for the eventual outcome manifest.
- If this isn’t the truest sign of the looming apocalypse, nothing is – Duncan Keith, on a power play, walked a puck across the blue line skating backwards, and then fired a quick snap shot from the point that picked the glove side corner and got through multiple screens cleanly. Even Keith himself couldn’t believe it, as it was visible in the goal pile up that he was asking Dach if he got a piece of that, and Dach shaking him off.
- Not that he hasn’t been for a while, but Brent Burns is clearly in his own world out there, and was caught swimming or grabassing multiple times tonight.
- Further proof that the Hawks are incredibly poorly coached – it was quite obvious that the Sharks were going to trap the shit out of this game early on while it was still close, and the Hawks went back to their early season ways of needing 67 regroup passes to try to get out of their own zone one way or the other. The Sharks were sending one forward in on a soft forecheck, had another planted at the center ice dot, and the two D and remaining forward parked on the blue line, and no one seemed to figure out either wheels and/or a soft chip would gain entry into their zone. Once again, even the slightest plan baffles Jeremy Bevington, but tonight he had his names come through to counter that.
- It’s anyone’s guess if or when the next game will be, but as of right now it’s slated to be Friday night against the Sens. If they 86’ed it no one would miss it, but clearly the league has to prove it’s HOCKEY TOUGH at this point. Until then, wash your hands and your ass and stay safe out there cretins.