For me, it's funny how in my last blog, I talked about how Luke Richardson deserved more credit for what he has been able to do with the team he has been given. Keeping games competitive and close while still picking up the Ls to hopefully land the grand prize of a top-three pick. However, now I’m wondering if it is time to panic a bit as this team has picked up two straight wins, including a monster win against the best team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins. This team is getting "hot" at the wrong time while the rest of the teams in the tankathon are losing key games. After beating the Predators last night, the Hawks now sit with the 4th-best odds to win the draft lottery, which we also found out will take place on May 8th. With just 14 games to go and this team having the 19th hardest schedule the rest of the way according to the website tankathon.com, is it time to just accept that this just isn’t in the cards for the Hawks?
Trying to figure out where this team has been going, I wanted to take a look at some of the numbers since the trade deadline a few weeks ago, and when you look at them, this team isn’t playing bad hockey. Realistically, we should all be thrilled with this play, but we all know what’s at stake, so of course we can’t enjoy it fully. Since the trade deadline, the Hawks have been playing.500 hockey with a record of 3-3-1. In fact, going even further back to the start of 2023, this team is 16-15-2, which to me is insane as the bad stretches have been so bad that it just didn’t seem possible.
It has been a great effort from this entire roster since the deadline, and one player who really benefited from all the moves is Taylor Raddysh. In the 7 games since the 3rd, he has put up six goals (including his first career hat trick) and an assist. He has an impressive shooting percentage of 33.3% and has seen his ice time hit just under 17 minutes a night. While I still miss Hagel, I have to say getting Raddysh in that trade along with 2nd and Katchouk has been an early win for Davidson. Speaking of Katchouk, this new look for the 4th line has been an absolute pleasure to watch. Over the last 5 games, Joey Anderson, Boris Katchouk, and Jujhar Khaira have each registered 5 points, combining for 5 goals and 10 assists. Having scoring threats on all four lines is something that this team hasn’t had in a while, and even though it’s a small sample size, it’s great to see the role guys stepping up, especially now when there really isn’t that superstar on the roster.
While the offense is clicking, the defense and goaltending have been stepping up big time as well. Since the deadline, the Hawks have had four of their six regular defensemen with a plus rating, and surprisingly, Caleb Jones is leading the pack with a +6. The team as a whole has a plus-3 goal differential, and when you take a look at the goaltending, it's easy to see why. Stalock continues to be a pleasant surprise this year as in his last 4 games (3 starts), he is 3-1 with a.942 SV% and a 2.30 GAA. He also has his second career shutout during this span, and he just does everything in his power to help this team win games. Even trash talking with Brady Tkachuk when he was being an idiot and trying to fight everyone Then you have Petr Mrazek, and despite his 0-2-1 record, he has been playing great hockey as well. During that span, he sports a.933 SV% and a 2.32 GAA. He just can't seem to get the right puck luck to help him get a win every now and then, but I believe that if he can keep this up next season, some team that needs goalie depth could realistically take a look at him. Now unfortunately, it looks like he may miss some time due to another groin injury, but at this point in the season, it might be smart to just shut him down.
It will truly be interesting to see how these last 14 games go, and personally, I believe this won’t be the story the rest of the way, but then again, who really knows at this point? It’s great to see this team building something, but what’s the point when most of this roster will not be here when it matters? The biggest question you have to ask yourself as a fan is: is watching this team compete like this worth missing out on a generational talent or even a potential franchise player? Will this fanbase be happy with a top-ten pick after all the moves KD made to try and go for the top three? I guess time will tell, and we will have our answer in just 52 days.