Blackhawks Bid Adieu To 2021-22 With OT Loss In Buffalo

On Friday night, perhaps the most trying, disrupted, frustrating and disappointing season in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks limped to the finish line.

Collin Delia got the nod in net for Chicago. His contract expires after this season, so this was potentially his final appearance for the Blackhawks. He stopped 33 of 36 in the game.

Dominik Kubalik scored Chicago’s first goal. He’s a restricted free agent this summer and might have been appearing in his final game for the Blackhawks. He scored 15 goals in 78 games this year. Over three years with Chicago, Kubalik scored 62 goals in 202 regular season games — 30 of those came in a rookie season that earned him a Calder Trophy finalist position. But his play over the last two years has been consistently inconsistent.

The Blackhawks’ other goal was scored by Dylan Strome, who might be the opposite end of the spectrum from Kubalik. Strome was acquired from the Coyotes (with Brendan Perlini) for Nick Schmaltz in 2018 and had a remarkable first season with Chicago in which he scored 17 goals and added 34 assists in 58 games.

The two years that followed for Strome were spent largely in the doghouse of Jeremy Colliton, who was wasting time and games in the careers of the players he was tasked with trying to lead. He was a debacle as head coach, and took most of the players’ careers in the wrong direction. Strome was one of the bigger enigmas in the Colliton era; he 12 goals in 58 games during the 2019-20 season and then fell all the way to nine goals in 40 games last season.

Chicago admittedly shopped Strome multiple times without success. And, finally, after a coaching change that was months/years overdue, Derek King put Strome back on the ice — and between Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. The result: 22 goals and 26 assists in 69 games this year, the final year of his contract.

Strome will be an RFA this summer and had a lot to prove. I would argue he did what was asked: since Jan. 1, Strome has 41 points in 49 games and won 52.6 percent of his faceoffs. Want a top-six center? Those numbers will do it. He may have played his final game with the Blackhawks on Sunday, but — unlike Kubalik — he made a strong case to the new front office that he could be part of the future solution in Chicago.

But what made this game the perfect capstone to this dysfunctional season wasn’t the fact that Kubalik scored or that Strome scored of that Delia was okay in net. It was that the Blackhawks gave up a lead not once but twice in the game. And, fittingly, former Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju was in on the overtime game-winner from Casey Mittelstadt.

But there were notes to the future all over this game that are worth considering.

We mentioned the fact that the Blackhawks acquired Strome with Brendan Perlini from Arizona because one of the few parting gifts Stan Bowman left behind was a trade that may pay significant dividends in the future. Bowman traded Perlini to Detroit for Alec Regula in 2019, a deal that wasn’t seen as a big one at the time but we’ve seen enough to be excited about the potential of Regula impacting the blue line in the coming years for the Hawks.

We mentioned that Jokiharju was in on the OT GWG. In July of 2019, Bowman traded him to Buffalo for Alex Nylander. That didn’t work out well for the Blackhawks. However, new GM Kyle Davidson flipped Nylander to Pittsburgh for forward Sam Lafferty earlier this season; Lafferty signed a two-year extension and has been a nice addition to the lineup since the trade.

We can now exhale and move on to bigger and better things. The turmoil on and off the ice with the Chicago Blackhawks organization this season was a lot to contemplate and try to reconcile. We’re looking forward to one of the more important offseasons in recent history for the Blackhawks, and have some exciting developments coming for your coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks as well…

41 thoughts on “Blackhawks Bid Adieu To 2021-22 With OT Loss In Buffalo

  • April 29, 2022 at 10:10 pm
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    the assist on kubalik’s goal by vlasic was worth watching the game. an nhl play. he was tough, strong on the puck, had good vision, and put the pass right on the money. great play.

  • April 29, 2022 at 11:21 pm
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    Yep great play by Vlasic

    KD needs to open enough D spots for Vlasic Regula and Mitchell next year

    DeHaan and Gus leaving makes two spots but someone else has to go – I’m on record saying I hope it’s McCabe but it’s more likely Murphy

    I think you have to bring back Strome – he’s still young and he’s not blocking anyone from a roster spot – Kubalik however is likely gone – Raddysh could move up or Dach

    I suppose if 19 and 88 decide to move on this summer there is some incentive to keep 8 however I think they both stay until TDL anyway then who knows

    I was so glad to be witnessing Gus’ last game as a Hawk – he turned the puck over in brutal fashion then stood dumbfounded by how stupid he’d just been leaving his man unmarked to score the first Sabre goal – classic Gus – you couldn’t draw up a better example of how not to play the position

    Delia with a softie on the 2nd BUF goal – that’s why he’s not an NHL goalie – plays well for almost the entire game then let’s in a game tying goal that he should have stopped with 5 minutes left

    This is why hockey is called a weak link sport – your weakest links consistently lose games for you – looking at you too Jake

    Tab – great point about time wasted with Colliton – another positive spin off from Kyle Beach is that his courage in coming forward lead indirectly to JC getting fired – otherwise he might still be here along with Stan

    …and thanks for the year – more to come I know over the next months and I pray there’s a good coaching hire to talk about – one not named Derek King

  • April 30, 2022 at 12:21 am
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    Not only does Tab make a good case for Strome, but Strome made a great case for himself. Strome and Colliton must have had bad chemistry, but an impartial observer would have to say that Strome then was not the same Strome we have seen lately. Colliton’s fault? Maybe. Strome’s fault? Maybe. Whatever the case, he has changed. He was relentless on pucks tonight, as he has been the past few months. Granted, he should have cleared the zone on the first goal, but he was under duress. During the rest of the game, his energy was outstanding, he won some battles and played defense. He got the last goal for the Hawks this season. There is very little choice but to bring him back because he earned it. You probably have to go at least $4 mil or match an offer for more. It is a bit of a risk because he could backslide. However, he is more mature now and it seems unlikely that will happen. Even when he was putting up good numbers early in his tenure with the Hawks, he did not seem this focused and relentless. He was soft. That does not seem to apply anymore, thank goodness.

    This was a strange year for Kubalik. He whiffed on lots of shots that he used to convert. Last year was not excellent either and we thought last year might have been a sophomore slump. Only the Hawks management knows if he fits in to the future model. You can’t really give him a raise. The current salary was based on the first year, which hasn’t been duplicated since.

    The recent talk among Hawks players that a rebuild doesn’t have to take forever leads you to believe that the guys talking about that want to be around. That is speculation at this point and this summer will be interesting.

    Delia and Lankinen both had some very good moments this year, but both have a propensity to let in a softy a game. It would be surprising if this wasn’t Delia’s last game as part of the Hawks organization. I had high hopes for him when he signed the 3 year deal 3 years ago. Lankinen is an interesting decision.

    In a way it’s a relief to have this season over and in a way we have to hate it because we are addicted to watching the Blackhawks. There were times this season it was painful, exasperating and unfulfilling, so let’s get that behind us and October will be here soon.

    Thanks for the site, Tab. It has become a large part of the Blackhawks experience for many of us. We look forward with high anticipation to what you have planned for us, per your last sentence.

  • April 30, 2022 at 4:43 am
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    Well said T.B. …
    (half full or half empty, is only defined by the beer I drink, and what time’s the game on!)
    Thanks for the forum.

  • April 30, 2022 at 6:28 am
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    I can’t remember a time where I was so thankful that a season was finally over. Felt like a 120 game season. But after all the dust has settled, I think there is some optimism for moving forward and by that I don’t mean we’ll be in the playoffs next year, but maybe there is a positive direction finally, it appears that our team will be bigger, stronger, more physical and more equipped in the future to slowly climb to the ranks of other teams. It will be interesting to see what the offseason holds for our team, who’s staying, who’s going, who’s going to lead this team into the future. Some moves will probably not be popular to fans but its moves that hopefully will lead to a better team. I totally missed the interview with KD between periods last night, should have taped it but I had people yakking at me, trying to catch the NFL draft and other stuff. If somebody caught it and could give a brief synopsis of it, that would be great. Loved the teaser for what’s upcoming for the site. For all fans here: have a safe and healthy offseason and will look for all your comments over the offseason.

  • April 30, 2022 at 7:30 am
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    Glad this season is over. This group plays like a bunch of guys at an open skate except the Strome line. Toews is no more than a 3rd line Center/Faceoff Specialist. He is offensively impotent. Borgstrom is absolutely horrible at everything and has to go. Kubalik also should go to open up a spot for a solid winger who can convert chances. Needless to say Gus,Dehaan, and either Stillman or Murphy should be moved to ensure that Vlasic,Regula,and Mitchell can claim their spots. The entire Goalie position has to be blown up. Neither Lankinen or Delia belong in the league as anything more than a backup or even Emergency Goalie. Finally the entire Coaching Staff should be sent packing. Next up,we win the Lottery and get Wright in many ways.

  • April 30, 2022 at 8:08 am
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    It was just a scrimmage ,Shinny ! Now it’s a long summer with a few calls “ you’ve been traded “ ! All the fans have to face a mediocre club next year when they try to rebuild and add a few pieces to the puzzle . There will be players that don’t want to come to Chicago . There will be comments from fans that think they have all the answers as to how to rebuild ! At 74 I just sort of laugh ! Some of the comments are from people that have never played the game or coached ! Again it’s 10 % of the people do 90% of the work ! What’s the term ? Armchair Quarterback! Let’s see ya take a hit from Tom Wilson and then stagger over to the dressing room ! Eh! POPS

  • April 30, 2022 at 8:23 am
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    Intensity pretty low in that game, understandable nobody wants injuries in a meaningless final game. Agree Vlassic assist was a big league play, definitely Regula, Vlassic and Mitchell have earned the opportunity to do it at Nhl level. Murphy would seem the logical guy to move, with Regula and Mitchell on the right points as a good step forward for rebuilding the Nhl roster.

    Good to have season over and a chance for a reset. Lots of decisions and movement coming in next few months, look forward to following your coverage of them Tab and the opinions that come with that.

  • April 30, 2022 at 8:54 am
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    off season.rocky and 3 more impending law suits.

  • April 30, 2022 at 9:26 am
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    just feels that the dream is done. 3 SC couple of finals and BAM, back to normal Blackhawks hockey.
    when will the next dream come?

  • April 30, 2022 at 9:48 am
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    The progression of Reichel, Dach and Raddysh developments next season will be a big part. Will they become top 6 forwards or maybe form a potential top 6 line. Some believe they know all the answers already but speculation is just that. Not much else save a few bottom 6 guys is a given with forward group at this point.

  • April 30, 2022 at 11:25 am
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    Here’s hoping Dach and Reichel get together with the training staff and put some beef on those bones. Both need to get stronger. And some power skating strength training would do Dach and a few others some good.
    Regula, Vlassic and Mitchell – a big yes to slotting them in and letting them go. It’s time. Love what I’ve seen from the former two these past games and hope that Mitchell can shake off the JC mismanagement that hampered his start in the league and really step up and show what he’s got.
    Raddysh should be a huge part of this team and I’m really looking forward to watching him play a full season in the red sweater.

    Interesting off season ahead indeed.

  • April 30, 2022 at 1:15 pm
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    8 teams likely will be disappointed in the first round, four more after that, then two more….then one more.

    Contract wise many teams in more trouble than Blackhawks.

    Any teams in trouble cap wise have an extra goalie? Could Lehner want out? Just guessing. Personally no preference jusr observing. Wouldnt want to see Lehner come back unless he comes along with a solid prospect or pick. Dumping cap space sometimes yields valuable assets…or perceived assets….see borgstrom. Course plenty of teams have way more cap space to play with than Blackhawks. Just have to wonder who the two goalies will ne next year. Lankinen will be signed somewhere.

    Who else loved Toews stealing the puck from either the other night, that was fun to watch.

  • April 30, 2022 at 1:21 pm
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    I don’t understand the knock against resigning Lankinen for next season. If he is below average, that is where the team should be anyways and your not damaging a young gpalies confidence in the process of the growing pains in front of him. If takes the next step and becomes a better than average goalie, then that is what you want him to be, seems like a win win type of move to me. The decision on who is his tandem, a veteran to handle half the load or a Soderblom who may benefit more from playing another year in Rfd.

  • April 30, 2022 at 3:40 pm
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    Quick comments on Strome. Yes, he had a good season, including at the dot. But, what would he be like without being surrounded by elite talent? He still has questionable speed and is weak on D. The Be careful not to sign him for too much term. Am not sold yet.

  • April 30, 2022 at 4:05 pm
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    @original6hawkey

    strome ….. agree with you. which strome will he be with the new contract in his back pocket? the guy of little effort he has been or the player of the last half of this year. if he is to be given three years at real money let another team do that. a bridge for a couple of years at low money i can live with.

  • April 30, 2022 at 4:56 pm
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    Strome is the best defender on his line which I grant is not saying much

    He’s already making $3 million so what is low money? – he has to be qualified at $3 and if resigned will get a raise

    Maybe 2 years at about $4 per is doable

    He could still be traded with a contract like that and still gives him incentive to keep producing to get a longer term deal down the road

  • May 1, 2022 at 4:44 am
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    @Perimeter Player – Looks like we were raised by the same type of parents. Do not ever bully, but god forbid if someone bullies you…lights out!

    @2022/2023 – I think a line of Dach/Reichel/Raddysh would be intriguing IF Dach/Reichel develop. 22/23 is the year of the Big IF. If Toews and Kane stick around, If Tyler Johnson can play the way he did in the last 5 games, If the Hawks re-sign Strome, If the Hawks let Kubalik walk, If the Hawks bring up Mitchell, Slavin, and Reichel to play with Entwhistle, Vlasic, Regula, Reese Johnson, and Boris Katchouk, and if the Hawks make any real trades or FA signings of note…IF the Hawks get a real NHL coach – Tocchet has my vote or the assistants from TB. If the Hawks get a young starting caliber GK.

    But, it all starts with Towes and Kane…IF the queen had…I digress!

    Great chatting with you all, and thank you Tab for a great site. Enjoy your golf season!

  • May 1, 2022 at 8:57 am
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    Don’t think this summer there is a big need to put alot of priority on finding your future goalie. Even when goaltending the bleakest looking, your still only one player away from drveloping or acquiring. Their windows are so small on average compared to skaters. Crawford was a major part of 2 cups but his window much shorter and not part of the building stage of Nhl roster. Tampa had to transition from Bishop in 2015 to Vasilevsky presently. Pens went from MAF to Murray who have both moved on. Binnington for Blues lost his starting job, Holtby for Caps is gone etc. If a young long term answer happens great and a couple of options in system but no need to give up assets to find one right now when maybe the answer is in house somewhere in organization, or move for a goalie who is peaking when needed could be done.

  • May 1, 2022 at 9:01 am
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    Season finish with 5 points in last 3 games .Not a bad end .
    Now let hug the hogs and look at the young Hawks play against a very strong opponent in playoff and let them have fun.

  • May 1, 2022 at 12:24 pm
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    This off season will be a make or break for some of these guys. Those that work hard to improve and add size and strength just might make it those that vacation and party will be gone. As they say this off season will separate the men from the boys. Hear’s to management making the right decisions for the future of this franchise. Everyone have a great summer.

  • May 1, 2022 at 5:25 pm
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    Oupps..just heard the news about Crawford and Cookson that they will not be with the Hawks next season . Also coach King will not be there next season . KD will annonce the news very soon .

  • May 1, 2022 at 10:38 pm
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    Allan and C Dach going to Rockford to start playoff against Texas.
    Série start on Wednesday..

  • May 1, 2022 at 11:05 pm
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    Completely disagree that the only reason for Strome’s success was playing on the line with Kane and Debrincat. First, a lot of guys tried to center those two and no one on that roster clicked with them. T Johnson, Dach, Borgstrom, Carpenter, Khaira… None of them had success. If all it took was to play on the same line with Kane, one of them would have stuck…

    Strome worked his ass to improve his game and he did. You can tell because not only did his own numbers improve when he was paired with Kane and DeBrincat but their numbers improved as well. If you look at all the centers those two played with, their numbers improve when playing with Strome.

    So not only did Strome benefit from playing with DeBrincat and Kane, but those two benefited from playing with Strome.

    Strome still has flaws in his game, he didn’t suddenly skate like McDavid, but he had to earn his way back to centering the top line. Not everyone who played between Kane and DeBrincat can say that.

  • May 2, 2022 at 6:45 am
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    Miroslav, Strome elevated his game in the offensive zone but really doesn’t play a defensively responsible or supportive game. Kane one of the most offensively gifted offensive players of his era, i understand letting him play a game that allows him the opportunity to use that generational skill as much as possible makes sense. Cat plays both ends of the rink, kills penalties, he is the most responsible of those 3, at times trying to play almost like a power forward role which allows opponents to take advantage of his size. Strome yes upped his offensive game playing with them but really doesn’t give much thought to defensive end or have the desire to try and use his size to his advantage. The other C’ s you mention or most, play more 200ft game but because we don’t see offense they are considered failed experments while offense is automatically assumed a big success, i guess saying Lankinen sucks or saying some the D are turnover machines is easier than going there. Moving Strome would not disappoint me if the return is there now but if they keep around ok for now. What the Blackhawks need are more forwards who are committed to a 200ft. game, with combined skill and physical play not more who aren’t.

  • May 2, 2022 at 11:13 am
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    @Ian, there may be a legitimate argument to not bring Strome back next year. But none of them is because he only improved by playing with Kane and DeBrincat. That part is incorrect.

    I don’t agree that Strome doesn’t play a defensively responsible or supportive game. I would agree that his skating is a liability on the defensive end and overall he isn’t a good defensive player but one of the things that got him back in the lineup was improving his game away from the puck. Once King was satisfied that Strome was making the effort, he earned a spot back in the lineup. So he did improve defensively at least according to King.

    The narrative that Kane can play with anyone is not accurate and does not apply to Strome’s success. That was my only point. I am not saying the Hawks should bring Strome back, but I will say that they currently don’t have anyone on the roster or in the system who can replace Stromes production as a #1 Center. Unless something changes between now and the start of the next season, the Hawks are going to have a big hole to fill where Strome used to be in the lineup…

  • May 2, 2022 at 11:27 am
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    I want Strome back – on a short deal though – he has shown enough improvement in his compete level and in his defensive game (I get that it is still not great) to go with his undeniable offensive instincts to be worth another contract – there is also reason to believe he will get better yet – he’s young and he seems (empahsis on ‘seems’) to have a new attitude and commitment to improving

    I agree that he can learn to leverage his size more in both ends of the ice but I have seen some improvement there too

    The other thing as Miro alluded to is that he’s not blocking any heir apparent – maybe one day that could be Reichel or Dach but not now and maybe never

    Despite defensive issues I think the numbers show that with Strome on the ice the Hawks score more than they get scored on and sure some of that is linemates but I don’t think that was true for any other centre that played between 88 and 12

  • May 2, 2022 at 12:25 pm
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    Strome is playing with arguably the best passer and set up man in the NHL ever . . . KANE! Plus he is along side CAT who is always below the dot and taking up space, defensive attention and often more than one defender, leaving Mr. Strome to do his thing. Plus his damage is on the power play, 5 on 5 not so much. YES he has done his thing well but other GM’s know its the line he’s on that has padded the numbers and inflated his value. Hawks will be stuck with him and we are stuck with him on a line flanked by KANE and CAT, not bad but not very flexible up and down the line up? I think KING is staying, i think he can and will be a good coach in a rebuild, he had little influence over this team, I think he will be more of a Darryl Sutter Type coach. King was a hard nosed competitor and Hawks need some grit, way too easy to play against. Let King build his own support staff and have a big say in the horses we get in next year .Looking forward to next year.

  • May 2, 2022 at 12:53 pm
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    Wrap/Miro that line of 12-17-88 against weaker teams with lots of room were lights out. The problem was against the top teams their best lines were dominating, keeping Blackhawks pinned in own zone. Yes they bring the punchers chance quick strike hope the Backhawks other lines don’t bring but in long haul lacked competitivity without the puck against the top teams. As the defense emerges the next few years, that helps some, nothing changes though nothing changes.

  • May 2, 2022 at 12:55 pm
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    See what next Tuesday tells us, the answer who plays there may become obvious.

  • May 2, 2022 at 2:18 pm
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    I just read that we were tied with Habs for fewest regular season wins and they were missing Price for most of the season. There’s an argument there that we were the WORST team in the league. I don’t really know because I haven’t watched more than a shift or two in any game in months. There’s just no reason to watch at this stage.

    As I posted before, there are really only two top line players/prospects under 30 in the entire organization (4 and 12). This is rock bottom. Get used to it.

  • May 3, 2022 at 12:06 am
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    Ian – I hear ya – if Hawks don’t win lottery Strome is more likely to be traded so they can really suck next year – but if they should win the lottery maybe he stays because there’s now need to suck

  • May 3, 2022 at 6:02 am
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    @POPS4 – You know your comment really rubbed me the wrong way, especially this part…
    “…Some of the comments are from people that have never played the game or coached ! Again it’s 10 % of the people do 90% of the work ! What’s the term ? Armchair Quarterback! Let’s see ya take a hit from Tom Wilson and then stagger over to the dressing room ! Eh! POPS…”.

    So, unless we take a hit from Tom Wilson, or played in the 70’s, or are flunkie hockey players, or are hangers on with ex-Hawks from a bygone era, you are saying that we our opinions don’t matter? There are some astute hockey fans on this site, in fact, I would say all of these guys would have done a much better job running the Hawks than Stan Bowman!

    But, since you are such a tough guy POPS4, why didn’t you get all of your tough hockey guys to march and stick up for your poor truckers who had more important things to say than us hockey blokes?

  • May 3, 2022 at 8:00 am
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    I’d like to see the Oilers win their series with LA but I couldn’t help but take pleasure in Mike Smith’s ego driven selfish ‘I’ll be the hero guys’ play that literally cost EDM game 1 late in the third

    I’d be hard pressed to find a more egregious goalie error in the dying minutes of a tied playoff game – MAF had a bad gaffe last year but that was accidental – Smith’s was totally intentional – he did exactly what he wanted to do and it was such a monumentally bad decision that it exposed Smith for the idiot he is

    Looks good on him!

  • May 3, 2022 at 8:44 am
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    @Wrap. LOL. Can’t say that I disagree about Smith.

  • May 3, 2022 at 9:38 am
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    tommy ivan

    couldn’t agree more with your post about pops4. i have voiced my appreciation for pops4 in the past and i also was very offended by his last post. the guy is a legend in his own mind. wondering if anyone loves him as much as he loves himself. interesting that he rarely shares insights to the game or players. just criticizes us from down south.

    i always refer to jerry krause when neanderthals like pops4 spew their garbage that “you had to play the game to know the game.” here is a guy who was almost as round as he was tall. can anyone envision him on the basketball court? but he built two three peat championships with the bulls. the enormity of that lies in the fact that only pippen and jordan played for both three peat teams. krause completely rebuilt that first three peat team in two years except for pippen and jordan. pretty good for a guy who didn’t play the sport.

  • May 3, 2022 at 10:37 am
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    Just waiting for his third person post. That should be a good one.

  • May 3, 2022 at 12:46 pm
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    Ex Hawks had 3 goals and 3 assist and a win and loss in net yesterday.

    Have Avs and Panthers in The Cup. Might have to lean to Avs if the ex Hawks factor works like the ex Cubs factor. Avs zero ex Hawks Panthers 3.

  • May 3, 2022 at 1:50 pm
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    What the heck is going on with King. What’s the delay in announcing his future? Does KD not know what to do with King.

    Has he not seen enough to know that he is not the coach for a rebuilding the Hawks and developing young talent. There has been limited development out of Rockford when he was there. It does not take a hockey mastermind to skate S Jones as much a possible and put Kane and Kat on a line. We continued to see Gussy, Dehann, and McCabe while the young defensemen either sat in the pressbox or in Rockford. The Hawks need a coach that embraces the suck for a coupe of years, does not crush young players after mistakes, and is a solid teacher of the game. Sorry, I do not see evidence of that capability from King at this time. Its time to go

  • May 3, 2022 at 5:14 pm
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    From his presser today sounds like KD may pick up a goalie either through FA or trade

    That doesn’t rule out Lank sharing the net but probably means Soderblom gets more AHL time

  • May 3, 2022 at 10:30 pm
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    Maybe Hawks should make an offer that he can’t refuse ….Bruce Boudreau .
    He can leave the Canucks iff he wants or he can give them another year before signing a big contract. Up to him .

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