The 2019 campaign is over. It will likely go down as one of the most disappointing performances that the Hawks have had since the core congealed back in 2007. Two 40+ goal scorers. A 35-goal scorer. Eight 30+-point seasons. A defenseman with 60 fucking points. And no playoffs.
It’s a massive disappointment. Yet somehow, it exceeded expectations? Given how bad the Western Conference was this year, the Hawks were in shouting distance of the playoffs as recently as two weeks ago. I certainly didn’t expect that, especially with Crawford missing as many games as he did. While none of us really expected the playoffs to be a reality, that they were even in the running was at least surprising. What’s scary is that it came on the backs of career years from Kane, Toews, DeBrincat, and Gustafsson. Is it safe to rely on that?
Fuck, we’ve got a long, long time to crack this brewski open. I’ll try not too be too retrospective tonight. Let’s kick it.
– First, thank you for reading and sharing this year. Sincerely, it’s a pleasure to write for all of you.
– Cam Ward was outstanding tonight. Four goals on 50 shots is entirely acceptable behind this sock-as-as-condom defense. He certainly deserved a win for the effort tonight. We gave him a ton of shit this year, but tonight is a good memory to keep of him. Even though the Hawks had nothing to play for, Ward gave it a good effort. It’s a nice send off.
– Alex DeBrincat had a hot and cold game. Early on, he was everywhere, creating offense on Perlini’s goal especially. After playing staunch defense in his own zone, he skated to the neutral zone and executed a dump and chase on his own. All Perlini had to do was be there for Top Cat’s pass. As the game wore on, DeBrincat got a little looser. It was especially obvious on Fibbro’s goal. After turning the puck over on the near boards, he stood complaining about something, forcing Gus to cover his man high in the zone. Fabbro took advantage, dropping into the space left wide open by Gus covering his man. Had DeBrincat not complained, maybe he’s in that spot.
After the year he had though, you don’t hold something like that against him. Not tonight at least.
– Brendan Perlini ended a nine-game pointless streak tonight, but his airheadedness also allowed Wayne “They Don’t Call Me ‘Plate Tectonics’ for Nothing” Simmonds to crash the slot for a prime chance in the first. We’ve seen this before from Perlini, where he will take time off on a play that gives an opponent a good chance. Something to watch going forward, especially in terms of how Colliton deals with it. He’s scratched him before for boneheadedness.
– Drake Caggiula can stay. That it took Stan Bowman signing Brandon Manning as a “fuck you” to Quenneville to get him isn’t his fault. He’s looked in place with Toews and Kane, mostly because he will go get the puck, taking that pressure off Toews. I’m still not sure that a Stanley Cup contender should have Drake Caggiula on the first line, but it hasn’t looked particularly wrong. I liked him tonight, and I liked him all year as a Hawk.
– Patrick Kane is a piece of shit as a person, but he’s a goddamn artist with the puck. His patience on the goal line before his pass to Caggiula was astounding.
– I’ll go on record as saying I really like Pat Foley. Generally, he’s good at what he does and is entertaining. But listening to him call Austin Watson “physically proficient” in the same breath as talking about his far-too-short 18-game suspension for domestic violence was a bit much. He probably didn’t relate the two, but as a broadcaster, that’s kind of his entire job: to say things thoughtfully and clearly. He probably didn’t conflate the two consciously, but that he didn’t think how that phrasing might play was jarring to me.
– The sooner we all come to terms with the fact that Erik Gustafsson will never be anything more than a below-average defender with the ability to score 60 points, the better. He’s going to be the most interesting player the Hawks have next year because of his offensive proficiency, his defensive offensiveness, and his sweetheart contract.
– Listening to Nashville fans mock Ward after an empty netter reminds me of Clint Eastwood talking to that empty chair that one time. Looking forward to their piss-sweater-wearing team getting bounced before they win a Cup again.
We’ll have playoff coverage and baseball shit for you in the off-season. We’ll give you the postmortem in a week or two. And as always, we’ll give you the skinny on the draft and free agency. But for now, and for the second straight year, we’ll sign off on games that matter.
Thanks again for reading. As a great man once said:
Onwards . . .
Booze du Jour: Victory’s Sour Monkey and accoutrements.
Line of the Night: “They really have no business being in this game with the opportunities they’ve given up.” Pat Foley on the Hawks, getting it 100% correct