By Rich Lindbloom
Need I say anything more?
Certainly, you’d be hard pressed to recall a more dismal game than the one that took place before a blood thirsty United Center crowd last Sunday. Against the hated Canucks no less; do the Hawks realize the shame we fans feel when Vancouver beats us? Do they realize that some of us who blog on the Nucksmisconduct website are treated like boy toys until the next time we play, Nov. 16th. At one point in the third period I said to my son, “You can actually hear a pin drop in here.” That without the help of my hearing aids, whose batteries went dead shortly after the Canucks third power play goal. (It’s more than apparent that the Hawks power play needs a little Energizer Bunny help at the moment-although I haven’t reached the desperation of one blogger who actually thinks we’d be better off declining the opposition’s time in box.)
Which leads me to a sagacious observation; I’m pretty sure Paul Simon wrote the song Sounds of Silence while attending a Ranger game when they were blown out by the Bruins. As our old friend, darkness, enveloped the United Center during the last ten minutes of the game, my mind started to take off in many different directions, scatter brained was an apt description at this point. No longer was I interested in trying to figure out who was matched up against who and other technicalities the wiser fans follow. We had reached the stage of “Get off the ice (Leddy, Montador, Bolland, Brunette, Hjarlmarson etc.),” in the far reaches of the 300 section. A common lament was we’re “wasting” Toews and Sharp immediately needs to be put back on his line or it’s curtains for us. I always sort of chuckle when Sam Fels gets perturbed, and holler back at the fans who myopically focus on whatever player has made the last mistake or is in the doghouse of the cash paying fan who demands perfection. Hell, at $8 dollars a beer, I guess he has a right to complain.
No, my mind started thinking about way more important things. For instance; did you realize Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are still a couple? Or that Kim Kardashian and her estranged husband Kris Humphries met in Minneapolis this weekend with the pastor who married them – as the article sadly pointed out, don’t get your hopes up for a reconciliation. Another thought that had me even more upset than the Hawk effort was Mayor Emmanuel announcing he’s going to put red light camera’s on stop lights by every school in Chicago – and no it is not to raise revenue for the city, but to keep the kids safe; right, and John Scott could excel at left wing on Toews line if only given the chance. Look, I don’t know if Leddy and Keith are a disaster, what line Carcillo should be on, or if trading Brian Campbell is going to come back and bite us in the butt. What I do know is the term “honest politician” is the epitome of the word oxymoron. (Personally, I think there’s a good chance Herman Cain’s accuser thrust her thigh at Herman’s helpless hand, but once again I’m getting sidetracked.)
I recall a song by Dave Mason entitled Sidetracked, that is on one of the many albums collecting dust on the shelf. Perhaps it accurately described at least part of the reason for the less than desirable results against Vancouver, that might be best described as running your finger nails along the chalkboard. The Hawks either took, or were singled out by two of the NHL’s finest O’Rourke and Vanmassenhoven, for penalty after painful penalty. (O’Rourke’s mustache really bothers me.) Hollering, “He started it,’ had little effect on the zebra’s decisions. I got sick of hearing the organ go “da, da da, da,” as one Hawk player after another was sent away. Knock it off Pelico! I’m sure there’s worse things in life, but watching the Sedins and Kesler celebrate power play goals is hard to top. Maybe bamboo under the finger nails. Do you think Coach Q might have told the boys not to take stupid penalties before the game? As I recall, most of the penalties were not of the type where you haul someone down on a breakaway.
Two of the penalties sort of validated the acquisitions of Mayers and Carcillo in the offseason. There is little doubt in my mind that Vancouver thought they could escape extracurricular activity with impunity last year. For what it’s worth, players like the douche bag extraordinaire Kevin Bieksa, will at least have to give some consideration to taking a run at our skill players this year. (Although, given the current state of the Blackhawk powerless play, there may not be too many players to take a run at.) Mayers vs. Bieksa was a heavyweight matchup. Haymakers abounded, and while I was told by Vancouver homers that Bieksa got the last punch in, Mayers acquitted himself with considerable aplomb. #22 is one tough dude and fortunately can play some hockey, notching an assist on our fourth line’s tally. After the game Mayers voiced his opinion on the intensity and specialness of the Creeps vs. the Hawks rivalry; “Obviously, there’s a dislike from both sides.” Ya think!?
Actually, and most of the knowledgeable blog sites pointed this out after the game, Mayers/Kruger/Stalberg seemed to have a pretty good chemistry. One of the evening’s few bright spots, (I swear, they are always there if you look hard enough), was this lines play. I still don’t quite know what to make out Valiant Viktor, but like a lot of times last year, he seems to excel as a “bumslayer” on this line. Stals attributed part of his success to being paired with someone he is able to communicate with, his fellow country man Marcus Kruger. “All Toews does is stare at you when you fail,” confided #25. Forget the fact that the only word in Swedish that Mayers knows is “kottbullar,” he pretty much speaks with his fists. “I’m going to kick your ass,” is pretty much understandable no matter what your native tongue is! His demeanor reminds me a little bit of former Hawks bad boy, Terry Ruskowski.
It seemed to me Daniel Carcillo played less hockey and resorted more to his well known “meatballish” ways in Sunday’s affair. I know he felt as much shame as we 300 level fans did when Rome was lying on top of him. It actually reminds me of a story about another great Chicago athlete who played for the Bears. For those of you who can only recall Singletary and Urlacher playing middle linebacker for da Bears, way back when they had this charming gentleman that went by the name Dick Butkus. Think of the toughest player in hockey you know and then add a few tablespoons of truculence.
A friend recently reminded me of a story about Buktus’s playing days at the University of Illinois. On a goal line stand, #51 ended up on his back with the running back on top of him. The next thing you see in the film is spit flying from Buktus’s helmet into the helmet of the running back. I know gross, but it may help to explain why Carcillo was given an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. That penalty has always baffled me as about 50% of all hockey games could possibly be defined by the word unsportsmanlike. There are not many summa cum laude graduates of Charm School playing in the NHL. Hopefully Danny will be rewarded for some good behavior as he’s reunited, (and it feels so good), with Kane and Hossa. Although, I’m not sure Carcillo is the best influence for Kaner. Something tells me were in for another Limo story this year.
Corey Crawford seemed to be a little on edge – somewhat out of character for our lovable Mouseketeer. Getting shelled will do that to you. He had several words with the Vancouver bench during a timeout. The thought entered my mind that it would be really fun to see Crow skate down and pummel Luongo. I guarantee you, the crowd would have forgot about the score in the game had that transpired. By the way, if you haven’t read the Sports Illustrated article on fighting in the game, it’s worth the time. My favorite quote was from the LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi; “I’ve yet to see someone go to the concession stand when a fight breaks out.”
When we weren’t shooting ourselves in the foot, as Hattie at Blackhawk Down Low so astutely noted, there were some decent moments-more bright spots. I actually thought Toews had a strong game. Every time I say that I cringe thinking someone is going to point out with the use of statistics how poorly he actually played. Just based on the eye test, I thought Toews gave a 110% all night. What’s that; you say it’s impossible to give more than 100% – make sure you don’t tell Toews that. He’ll stare at you until your brain explodes like a squeezed pimple. Brunette worked very hard out there and narrowly missed locating a rebound and gaping goal mouth in the second. On a good night, the puck goes to your stick; on a bad night, well when it rains it pours. The newly constructed BOB Line for tonight’s game against the Blues has me biting my finger nails. Brunette/Olesz/Bolland – while I really like the three other lines that have been formed, this one is cause for considerable consternation. I guess Bolland will just have to be more Rat like than ever. Q will probably change things around again by the middle of the first anyway.
Also, while we in the 300 section who derisively love to chant “Luuuuuuuuuu,’ when he starts leaking excessively, my hats off to the enigma in the Canucks net. He made 38 saves, a few spectacular (Leddy and Seabrook’s attempt most notably). I also heard a quote from Lu that had some verisimilitude in it, “These games are always fun.” I might disagree with Sunday’s debacle, but into every life a little rain must fall. It could be worse, you could live in Vancouver where the sun refuses to shine for 9 months out of the year. When I “sort of” congratulated the much hated ‘vancitydan’ from Nucksmisconduct, he said he’d like to have a beer with me someday. It made me laugh and probably offered the only solution to the trouncing we took, the 5 on 4 beat down by one of the most potent power plays in the game. It reminded me of my woeful golf game and no matter how upset I am after a round, a few beers can get me smiling again.
‘No matter how grouchy you’re feeling
You’ll find the smile more or less healing
It grows in a wreath
All around the front teeth
Thus preserving the face from congealing.” – Anthony Euwer
Keep smiling Hawk fans, it’s always darkest before pitch black. I’m thinking Sunday’s game could best be described by two words, Abby-normal.