By Rich Lindbloom
Bushwhacked: To attack or fire upon from hiding ; ambush.
I received an e-mail from a customer while attending a sales meeting Monday morning. It simply read, “I think that Edmonton just scored again!” To say the Oilers, and to a lesser extent the Flames, knocked us off our high horse would be an understatement. In an inadvertent way, I may have contributed to the “narrow” defeats in Alberta over the weekend – more on that later. Suffice it to say the ephemeral joy we experienced in Vancouver two days before being thrown into the depths of despair, dissipated quicker than a cowboy trying to stay on the much ballyhooed bull Bushwhacker. In retrospect, we were bushwhacked in Alberta, there’s no other way to put it. Oh, and weren’t the rubes in the frozen tundra having a time, “We want 10, want 10!” Not satisfied with a win, they wanted to rub our nose in it.
One of the few positives that could be taken away from that game was the Oilers only ended up with 9 – ha!, in your face Edmonton fans, in your face.
In professional Bull riding, 8 is the magic number. The cowboy who can stay on the bull for 8 seconds, has grabbed the bull by the horns so to speak. Currently, there is a bull on the rodeo circuit who has never been ridden, successfully. The closest anyone has come is 6.65 sec. Most ca-boys don’t make it past 3.5 seconds. We caught of first glance of the bull called Bushwhacker a few Sundays ago. My wife hollered down to my son, “Greg come here for a second, this is what a real man looks like,” as the crazy cowboy prepared himself in the chute. You could feel the excitement in the announcer’s voice just prior to the gate opening, waiting for the 1,500# ballerina like bull to be set free. The rider lasted less than four seconds, and Bushwhacker spent at least 3.5 seconds with all four hooves in the air. For the 28th consecutive time, Bushwhacker launched a cowboy into space. As the saying goes, “What goes up must come down,” and as the rider, (I’m going to call him Duncan), flew off the bull, the clowns were sent in to pick up the pieces.
So just how bad was this weekend? When a Judy Collins song comes to mind, most likely you won’t be clapping your hands and stomping your feet. Collin’s song seemed to perfectly capture the somber mood of Hawk fandom after Saturday’s “turn you every which way but loose affair;”
“Isn’t it rich?
Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground
You in midair…
Where are the clowns?”
Watching the game Saturday to the sound of the final buzzer brought to mind a monk named Simeon Stylites of Syria. It was said of him, (and reminded me of a possible Toews reaction to the game),
“Simeon built a six feet high column in the desert and lived on it for some time. But he grew ashamed of its small height and found one 60 feet high, three feet across, with a railing to prevent him from falling off. On his perch Simeon lived uninterruptedly for thirty years, exposed to rain and sun and cold. He bound himself to the pillar by a rope; the rope became imbedded in his flesh, which putrefied around it, and stank, and teemed with worms. Simeon picked up the worms that fell off from his sores and replaced them there, saying to them, ‘Eat what God has given you.”
Another way to describe the pain, which Chicago Native Son accurately described as numbing after awhile, was to consider taking the Epilady to the hair under one’s armpits. You had to be somewhat of a masochist to watch that game to the final buzzer. I was extremely disappointed when I discovered my brother John, of all people, had to turn the TV off. (Can you use the word TV anymore? Or has it been replaced by Flat Screen?) Would you pathetic bunch of panty waist band wagon jumpers have turned the game off if we were leading 9-2. I highly doubt any of you quitters who turned the TV off and did something more useful like go to bed, would ever make it as a monk. In a truly sick confession, I was sorry the game ended. In a sort of sick and twisted way, I began to enjoy the pummeling. As Shakespeare noted, “Death is as a lover’s pinch, which hurts and is desired.” And for those of us who watched to the bitter end, at least the Oilers never got ten. Again, “In your face!” And just a question; wouldn’t it have been incredibly stupid for Taylor Hall to have scored the tenth goal and separate his shoulder?
As always though, if you look hard enough you can find some bright spots, even in the black hole of the “Epilady Weekend.” Unfortunately, when John Scott is listed as one of them, most likely the game produced an unfavorable outcome. Fluffy actually seemed to handle the puck adequately, making quick decisions to get the puck out of harm’s way. My theory on why he doesn’t get pinned down that often is fore checkers are thinking twice about hitting him. In the Calgary game, Murdersaurus crosschecked a Flamer in front of our net, sending the trespassing louse flying. Bushwhacker would have been proud of the effort! As an added, very positive bonus, no penalty was called – and I don’t think the Flame was diving. Like most players Scott infuriates, he just gave the Fluffster a dirty look.
Also, Viktor Stalberg continues to show marked improvement. (hopefully this doesn’t mean Bowman will trade him to Florida for Scott Clemmensen.) The dashing young Swede seems to fit like an old shoe on the Toews/Hossa line. Viktor’s goal in the Calgary game was a beauty, and was one few players on the team can make. It was a pure speed and power move that got him in position to bang home a early Christmas gift from Toews. (Going hard to the net leads to a lot of good things Brian Bickell!)
Nick Leddy continues to lead the charge. The dude has 15 points already. As Killion once pointed out about Big Buff, “Cover me Hjalmars’s cuz I’m going in.” Of course, if we fail to get the puck deep, bad things materialize the other way in a hurry. The perfect time for an Eddie Olczyk “the O has got the D and the D has got the O” moment. Lately, Leddy is not joining the rush, he’s leading it. It does unnerve me a little to see Stalberg playing Leddy’s defensive position though. Like the cowboy flying off Bushwhacker the phrase, “Ooohhh, that’s not good,” comes to mind. And as Pat Foley fawned over the trade that brought exchanged Barker for Leddy until I was nauseated, I still question whether were a stronger team without Soupy. Guess a lot depends on what Stan Bowman has up his sleeve with the stash of cash he’s sitting on.
By the way, my thought on the Vegas weekend was that it saved the Hawk organization a lot of money. No doubt, any hotel in Vegas would gladly comp a bunch of millionaires and their wallets. Think of the money we saved by not paying the exorbitant Ritz Carlton rates in San Jose. It was probably one of the main contributing factors to Olesz’s contract festering in Rock Vegas. Ironically, as Jon Fromi pointed out, in his first game with the Hogs, Olesz had a goal an assist and a shoot out goal – more positive.
Andrew Brunette has responded quite well to his demotion to the 3rd and 4th lines. He seems to being giving it his all on every shift. It seems whoever he plays with, he generates good chances around the net. Concomitantly, the power play has also started to gel, and only a few great saves by The “Bulin Wall” kept us from making a game out of it. (yuk, yuk) Dang though, we had 34 shots on goal against the Oilers. In fact, if the truth be known, a controversial call by the ref, taking away a goal from Toews, was the straw that seemed to lead to the weekend disaster. It wasn’t all his fault, but life is a series of chain reactions and getting gypped by the ref played a huge part. Before I go on to the Oiler obliteration, I’d like to say I thought Crawford made some huge saves in Calgary, especially on Tanguay’s breakaway. It was not a fun weekend to be a Blackhawk goaltender.
Before the Oiler game I noted that if we don’t tighten up the defense we could be in for a rude awakening. A hit and run, track meet style game against the Oilers is not a wise game plan. The Oiler team is young, dumb and full of fun. (get your minds out of the gutter.) You want to put the peddle to the metal? As Ice Cube would put it, “Game On!” Actually, I really enjoy watching the Oilers, who were without four of their starting defensemen against us; Whitney, Potter, Sutton and Barker. Yeah, I know, we were missing one also, but Scott’s play more than offset that. In my mind, the Oilers team’s mindset was in a roundabout way described by the Blackhawk fan hater extraordinaire, “Canucklehead.” He wrote on nucksmisconduct website to a dad who reprimanded his son for not playing disciplined and within the system. Apparently the kid wasn’t very fond of dumping the puck deep into the corner and giving chase. Canucklehead was writing in response to the dad, but it also seemed to describe the mindset of the young guns on the Oilers; to me it was pure poetry-
“The best part of playing hockey is the creativity and the freedom when you’re on the ice. The fact that the game moves so fast makes it impossible to think, the outside world melts away because you’re forced to deal with only what’s happening directly in front of you. … It’s memories of plays I made before I had a chance to even consider them and the wind in my face as I took a full stride down the ice.”
Watching the “Kids are all right,” line of the goofy looking Jordan Eberle, 18 year old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall is a pure delight. It’s even more delightful that the Canucks have to play them four more times this year! (So far they’ve split a pair of tightly contested games.) I remember last year when an apparently depressed Oiler fan gave the following advice. “If your thinking of picking up Dubnyk as a Fantasy goalie, and I hope you’re not, don’t count on much.” How quickly things change. The net minding duo of Khabibulin and Dubnyk has been better than solid. Often times they mask the odd man rushes that are generated by the Oilers aggressive, “cast your goalie to the wind” mindset.
Well it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as we head towards Shark infested waters tomorrow. Unless we play a piranha like defense, we could get ripped to shreds in a hurry. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Carcillo and Smith trade places. There just seemed to be a chemistry with Kane and Smith last year – a sort of “get open Benji, and I’ll get you the puck” reaction. I have a feeling Mr. Big will have a huge night in the nets for us. Watch out for dat Havlat guy doe.
They say confession is good for the soul. My part in the past weekend’s dismal outcome was mentioning I’d rather see a moderator at SecondCityHockey,( who was in ICU for over 21 days), get better than see the Hawks win. When healthy, Stacie7 does her best to keep the peace and brain damage to a minimum at the site. Just prior to game time against Calgary, she noted that she was feeling much better. Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it! Of course I’m just kidding, it’s time for you to get back on the bull Stacie7! There are things more important than a Blackhawk victory…err sort of, err I think, well, mmm maybe, then again-ah what the hell, Get Well Stacie7!!! Someone needs to separate Badgerdano and Saaskjet.
Lastly, in Professional Bull Riding there’s an old axiom; the question is not whether or not you’re going to get hurt, it’s when and how bad. Despite repeated failures and mass contusions, every ca-boy on the Rodeo Circuit wants a crack at Bushwhacker. They might be the only athletes I know that are tougher than hockey players. The euphoria of riding Bushwhacker for 8 seconds is very similar to winning the Stanley Cup. Both require an inordinate level of dedication, bravery and desire. Someone will most likely best Bushwhacker eventually, but there will be a lot of cowboys dusting off their britches in the mean time. The important thing is that you keep getting back up and slapping that bull on the ass. Ride em cowboy! Let’s grab those Sharks by the fin tomorrow.
And believe it or not, I think Edmonton just scored again.