Welcome to 2023!
The bad news is that the Chicago Blackhawks may have just hit rock bottom.
The bad news is that the Blackhawks are probably going to stay here for several more months.
Oh, wait: you’re supposed to follow up the bad news with the good news — guess we’ll have to come back to that later. Because, right now, it’s hard to feel anything beyond the misery of Chicago’s two games on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
There are plenty of losses to choose from this season, of course: 28 overall, 24 in regulation, 20 in the last 22, 12 of the last 13 and the last 4 in a row. But there’s a special type of misery from the last two defeats because both the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks are toiling down near the bottom of the NHL standings and both teams handed the Hawks a thorough ass-kicking. Columbus dominated the second period so completely that Chicago might as well have not even shown up for those 20 minutes. San Jose made a brief two-goal deficit disappear in a heartbeat and then piled on to the tune of the Blackhawks\ third-worst expected goal share of the season: a measly 26.77 percent (the only two worse ones were 23.75 against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 10 and 20.72 against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 19 — both playoff teams).
Again, it’s not the result of these two most recent outings that leave an especially awful aftertaste: it’s the method of the defeat. The Blackhawks should, at least, be competitive against these other bottom-feeding teams. In back-to-back games, though, the Hawks didn’t even looked like they belonged in the NHL. Yes, the roster is bad, but that’s nothing new for this franchise. And even if the ultimate goal is obtained at the end of this season, more and more curious glances will be cast towards the guy standing behind the Blackhawks’ bench, wondering: what would you say, you do here?
Oh, right: the good news. Well, the only good news there is to offer is that this could all start ascending upward rather quickly when the draft lottery arrives. But that’s still several months away.
Probably said it before, but going to say it again: it’ll be a loooooooooooooooong winter, folks.
The Week That Was
Erik Karlsson needs to share directions to the fountain of youth he clearly discovered.
Early nominee for worst period of the season:
Columbus entered this game 28th in the league with a 44.31 expected goal share at 5-on-5.— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) December 31, 2022
Just had an 86 percent share in the second period. EIGHTY-FUCKING-SIX.
Hockey schadenfreude is about all we have right now but St. Louis is providing a healthy amount of it.
Carolina still feels like a team that possesses the puck like crazy but doesn’t quite have enough finish to turn all that possession into goals when it matters.
Where Idols Once Stood
We live in a society. And every society has rules.
Maybe rules is too harsh of a word ... more like social customs, or basic guidelines to follow when part of events within said society. You don’t propose to your significant other at someone else’s wedding. You don’t go to someone else’s cookout and tell them how to cook the food.
And when you go to an NHL hockey game, you do NOT, under any circumstances, do this:
Why? It’s simple: see all those people down there who are flying around a giant ice cube with razors under their feet? They’re moving awfully quick. So is the puck they’re hitting. Everything about this game is so fast, the pace so frantic, that averting your eyes for just a few seconds can cause you to miss something important. So every time that wave comes around and you jump up in the air is a time when the fan behind you can’t see for a moment or two — a moment or two when something really cool can happen. The line for what you should or should not do in most situations typically falls on whether or not it’s affecting someone else. Since this very much is, it falls on the wrong side of that line.
Where is it acceptable to do the wave? Don’t know. Don’t care! Let other sports fans with blogs in random corners of the internet have that debate. For this space, the verdict is clear and there will be no appeal: the wave does NOT belong at NHL games.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
The Week That Will Be
Tuesday, Jan. 3 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Hockey’s weird so it wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world if the Blackhawks emerged from their massive slump just in time to steal a 2-1 win in this game. Or they could lose 8-1. Either seems appropriate.
Friday, Jan. 6 vs. Arizona Coyotes
Arizona’s won ... five of its last 10?! For real?
Sunday, Jan. 8 vs. Calgary Flames
The final Bears/Blackhawks doubleheader of the season. Remember when those were fun? I miss when those were fun.