When you win three Stanley Cups in five years, you’re going to get a lot of the benefit of the doubt.
How much, though, is too much? You’ll recall that Chicago has now missed the playoffs for two straight seasons and the year before that, they were swept in humiliating fashion. That’s three springs without a single postseason win.
But because the core has stayed together — due to contractual obligations far more than any other factor, at this point — there was always going to be that breath of hope. This summer, we heard every possible iteration of excuse-making for why things haven’t worked out in the past three seasons but were going to this time around, for sure.
Hasn’t worked out that way. While most of the Chicago media worked overtime this summer to assuage concerns about this particular group, the reality was right there for everyone to see. The start so far this season is probably worse than many — even the most pessimistic — had reason to suspect, but 2-5-2 was certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
You’re going to want to sit down for this revelation, but: Playing next to Olli Maatta and getting a full training camp with Jeremy Colliton didn’t make Brent Seabrook play like he was 26 again.
Nor did swapping Artem Anisimov for Zack Smith make Chicago “harder to play against.”
And so Colliton did the only rational thing when faced with two guys getting absolutely crushed every night (Seabrook has an xGF% of 39.3 percent at 5-on-5, Smith’s is 30.6 percent). He healthy-scratched both veterans for Sunday night’s game against the Kings. They take up a combined $10.125 million against the cap.
Both Chicago and Los Angeles were coming off ugly road losses the previous day (4-0 at Carolina, and 5-1 at Minnesota, respectively) and Colliton figured, correctly, that a change was necessary. In went Dennis Gilbert for Seabrook, and Drake Caggiula for Smith. Chicago won in a walk, 5-1, in large part because Colliton had the bright idea to put Dylan Strome with Alex DeBrincat, but Caggiula scored and Gilbert, well, got crushed in limited minutes.
People will say Colliton made a tough but fair decision here. It wasn’t tough, because both guys stink, but they have Respect In The Room. And thus one has to understand out of all this that these decisions on one day of the season, in the second game of a back-to-back against one of the worst teams in the league, solve nothing.
You can get away with healthying Smith all year because there are 10 guys in Rockford who are just as good as him, if not better. He makes a decent chunk of change but not an insane amount. He’s on the payroll for next season but that’s deal-withable. Seabrook, on the other hand, is one of the core guys and he’s signed until 2024 with a full no-move for two seasons after this one, and makes almost $7 million against the cap. He should be in the press box every night for the rest of the season, but he won’t be, because he can’t be.
Colliton’s systemic changes and some new faces were never going to paper over Chicago’s problems, and one good result in late October against the Kings won’t change anything about how the team operates. It should, but it won’t. That’s not how this sport works.
Even with the win, the team is still a mile from the playoff cutline, and that’s with their having played eight of the first 10 at home. They’re 0-2 on the road, and nine of their next 11 games are away from United Center.
Those games won’t be a referendum on the team’s chances to be competitive this year. That ship has long since sailed. But they could, theoretically, start making better personnel decisions overall.
Instead, you can probably expect to see Brent Seabrook draw back in tomorrow night in Nashville. Because why not, right?
Anaheim Ducks: Huge road win against a good team. The Ducks are second in the Pacific. Behind only Edmonton. We all saw it coming.
Arizona Coyotes: Man, I dunno.
Boston Bruins: Wow, Boston looked great and forced Game 9.
Buffalo Sabres: It’s a wild stat but it’s true: Victor Olofsson’s career stat line (in 18 games) is 8-6-14 in all situations, and 8-2-10 on the power play.
Calgary Flames: We’re now up to 27 outdoor games. It’s a no thanks.
Carolina Hurricanes: Pointing out that Carolina’s goaltending has been “okay” is wild. The battery is Petr Mrazek and James Reimer. Were you expecting Vezina-level play from those two?
Chicago: People are mad at Jeremy Colliton for the D pairings? I mean, what’s he supposed to do?
Colorado Avalanche: Nice to see the depth moves they made this summer actually work out so well.
Columbus Blue Jackets: It’s hard to believe these guys are a game above .500 given that Joonas Korpisalo is the better goalie on the team by far… at .896. This was always going to be their big weakness. Always.
Dallas Stars: This is very good analysis of the issue at the heart of Dallas’s problems: Jamie Benn isn’t scoring like he should or, certainly, like he gets paid to.
Detroit Red Wings: No need to do this to yourself, Dylan.
Edmonton Oilers: You literally don’t have to do this kind of thing. Ethan Bear isn’t even the most impressive rookie defenseman in his own division (Quinn Hughes), let alone his own conference (Cale Makar). If you’re putting together a Calder top-10 this early in the season, Ethan Bear — three points, 41.2 GF%, 48 xGF% — ain’t on it.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers have been making a lot of fringe NHL/AHL trades lately. What’s up?
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick gave up five on 27 Saturday night. Dropped his season save percentage below .850 once again. Hoo boy.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild have won three straight at home. That’s good. They now begin a stretch with six of seven on the road. That’s bad.
Montreal Canadiens: Can Joel Armia, who’s shooting 23 percent but taking fewer than three shots a night, maintain his 40-goal pace? I have to say yes! Yes yes! A thousand times yes!
Nashville Predators: This crap is all so pointless. Who cares.
New Jersey Devils: So is it good or bad that Jack Hughes is suddenly second on this team in scoring? I’m leaning toward bad for them but just fine for him.
New York Islanders: They’re doing it again.
New York Rangers: You don’t wanna know.
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan a healthy scratch. That’ll show him!
Philadelphia Flyers: We’re really not talking much about how little Claude Giroux is scoring.
Pittsburgh Penguins: I mean, they only beat the Stars, but it’s nice to get the shutout for sure.
San Jose Sharks: Well I don’t think this is true, but okay.
St. Louis Blues: This is a really up-and-down team. Win three, lose four, win two, lose again. They gotta get their heads on straight here.
Tampa Bay Lightning: I don’t know if it’s good or not that a team playing on a 98-point pace and everyone’s reaction is “BOY THESE GUYS STINK!” That’s the cost of expectation, one supposes.
Toronto Maple Leafs: It’s cool that everyone in Toronto is landing on “the American guy sucks!” His xGF% at 5-on-5 this year is almost 60. Now about Morgan Rielly and Tyson Barrie’s play of late...
Vancouver Canucks: You gotta wonder what happens to these guys if they stop getting .920-plus goaltending. They’re playing fine but I think the margins are pretty thin at 5-on-5.
Vegas Golden Knights: One gets the feeling that, after the game, Vegas did not feel the same about Sparks’ return to the NHL.
Washington Capitals: Okay so you just can’t go back to Holtby anymore, right?
Winnipeg Jets: I don’t think you need a whole article of “take the old Jets jersey and change it 10 percent” but okay.
Play of the Weekend
When you make a goalie react like Joonas Korpisalo did, that’s a nasty move.
Gold Star Award
A 32-save shutout for Petr Mrazek that’s nice for him.
Minus of the Weekend
This is 10000000000000000 percent correct by Larry Brooks.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “DougGilmour93” has done it!
[quote]To Minnesota: William Nylander + Jeremy Bracco + Martin Marincin
To Toronto: Marcus Foligno + Jordan Greenway + Jonas Brodin[/quote]
Can my son use your bathroom?
Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
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