Tonight’s preseason game was as invigorating as a toenail-clipping party. That’s about par for the course when both Ottawa is involved and Garbage Dick is on the sidelines. We did learn a little bit in this game though, so let’s get through it.
– In true FFUD form, just a few hours after Hess wrote about how you’ll never really notice John Hayden out there, John Hayden was probably the most noticeable Hawk for most of the game. The Hayden–Marcus Kruger–Andreas Martinsen line was by far the best performer on the ice for the Hawks tonight, which is both good and bad: Good in that it’s always encouraging to see the fourth line dominate possession like they did, bad in that your fourth line probably shouldn’t ever be the most noticeable line, especially against a team contending for the first overall pick (IF THEY STILL HAD IT THAT IS). Hayden’s performance got him bumped up to the “second” line with Schmaltz and Anisimov later in the game, and while he wasn’t as noticeable in that role, he sure earned it.
– With Hayden moving up, Dylan Sikura got bumped down to the fourth line in the second half of the game. The hawk-eyed Mark Lazerus suggested that this could potentially be a death knell for Sikura’s hopes of breaking camp, especially with Luke Johnson and David Kampf playing relatively lights out. It’ll be a huge disappointment if Sikura has to start in the AHL, as just about everyone assumed he would be an offensive contributor out of the gate. Something to keep an eye on.
– Anton Forsberg only gave up two goals, and the first one was on blown coverage from “Hard J” Henri Jokiharju and Dominik Kahun. The second was on a Joe Louis Arena-esque bounce off the end boards. Overall, he looked decent, but he always looks like an eighth grader nervously asking his crush to dance with him when under pressure. There’s a loudness to his playing style that always has you on edge it seems.
– Jokiharju is going to have a pretty steep learning curve to overcome on the defensive side of the puck, but that’s not the end of the world. His offensive instincts are there. He ended up with a 45 CF% on the night, spending most of his time with Keith.
– Thank fuck Alex DeBrincat is 5’7” and fell to the Hawks in the draft last year (with the pick they got for Andrew Shaw. Never forget that.). The pass he conjured through Chabot’s legs on the Jonathan Toews goal slipped past three Senators total, and was simply a sight to behold. They may have brought Saad in to reinvigorate The Captain, but Top Cat on his left side is going to be the Michelangelo to his Renaissance.
– I’ve been pissing and moaning about Brandon Saad on the third line with Chris Kunitz and Luke Johnson since it’s been announced, but his play was deserving of his status tonight. He had a few unforced turnovers early and never really got into a groove. He finished with a disappointing 44.44 CF%. There might be a couple of mitigating factors here: Namely, Kunitz and Johnson are grinders and Saad was playing on his off wing, which he’s never really done, but that’s not much of an excuse. With the Nick Schmaltz–Artem Anisimov–Sikura line being the only line to be more of a ghost out there, I still think putting Saad with Schmaltz and Patrick Kane will be best for everyone, but his performance tonight didn’t inspire confidence. The Fels Motherfuck knows no bounds, apparently.
– Let’s cut this “Nick Schmaltz on the wing” horseshit out now.
Join us next week when we watch the Hawks play the fucking Senators again, because nothing worth doing ever comes easy.