By Rich Lindbloom
Ah, but the hatred is alive and well. With the emergence of the rum dummies on the western side of the Mississippi, otherwise known as the Blues, our rivalry with a team that personifies the word “malfeasance” had been put on the back burner. To be quite honest with you, with the arduous schedule we’ve had in March, I didn’t even get that worked up about playing the Canucks last Wednesday. This was a bit unusual when one recalls for the past three years these affairs have more resembled terrorism than hockey. They’ve always been a highly sought after ticket. After about two minutes of watching this battle royale, I quickly recalled what fuels one of hockey’s best rivalries. My complete and utter disdain for the blue and green men returned with a vengeance.
Jannik Hansen put it best; “They don’t like us, and I know we hate them. It’s pretty straightforward.” And that’s from one of the more level headed Vancouver players. (If there is such a thing.) It took nothing more than the drop of the puck, for this game to devolve into a chippy, cheap shot laden affair. In between the rights and lefts, the uppercuts, slashes and goal mouth facials, there was actually a high paced, exciting game played between two of the NHL’s most skilled teams. I’m pretty sure network executives would begin to salivate at the thought of a Chicago/Vancouver Conference Final. As Eric Clapton put it, “Hello old friend, it’s really good to see you once again…”
The game will forever be remembered as the one where the normally imperturbable Duncan Keith clocked Daniel Sedin. My initial reaction to the wicked elbow was not, “Yeah, great hit,” that you would normally hear from a bloodthirsty fan. As soon as I saw Sedin go down, with “cuckoo, cuckoo” captions above his head I became apprehensive. The Czar of Discipline in the NHL, “Shamalamadingdong” as Stacie17 on the Second City Hockey site calls him, would certainly be taking a look at this hit. There is little doubt that this type of hit is exactly the one they are trying to remove from hockey – with good reason I might add.
The hardest thing for me in accepting that “justice” was administered in this incident was getting over the fact that Sedin had taken a run a Keith a few shifts earlier. In fact, when I saw Keith’s hit applied to Thing One, my first thought was that something had to have happened earlier in the game for Keith to do his dirty deed. Post game highlights did indeed confirm my suspicion. As much as I can understand Keith’s (or any defenseman for that matter) anger for being run at by overzealous forecheckers, he plain and clearly snapped. If there is one unwritten rule in hockey, it’s that they always catch the second guy.
I wonder if Shamalamadingdong reviewed “Squirrel Man” kneeing Keith in the crotch? I guess that’s just Burrow’s way of “getting a nut” so to speak. You’ve got the hat trick, the Gordie Howe hat trick and now the Alexandre Burrows hat trick – Pulling hair, biting and kneeing a player in the crotch. Tell me again why this play was not reviewed and Burrows suspended? It’s not like he doesn’t have a past history. Burrows turned me into a raging lunatic and I said to my friend Don, “Coach Q needs to put Bollig out on the ice every time Burrows is out there and make him feel the pain.” And I said it with a “kill him” type intensity that belies my love for the more refined parts of the game. It was as if I had been indwelled with Don Cherry’s truculent mindset. None of that, “Oh my, that was a lovely pass.” No, nothing less than Burrows blood could appease me in this depraved state of mind. You’ll have to except my apologies for the following thought; Burrows reminds me of one of those light turds that refuse to be flushed down the toilet. They go half way down and then pop back up again – ladies and gentlemen – I give you Alexandre Burrows.
I had to chuckle when I thought about Bollig’s penalty for giving Matt Kassian a facial in the first period in a post goal mouth scrum. In a game as physical as the one on Wednesday, that was a love tap! (“Love Tap, it’s a little old place where – we can get together, love tap, baby love tap.”)That was a penalty that made zero sense in a game as rough and tumble as they come. However, I’ve given up trying to figure out what goes on in the mind of an NHL official a long time ago. There was one other facial, actually a series of facials that didn’t get called. For some reason, I forget who started it. But every Hawk player skated up to Chicken Hawk after his game winning slapshot from the blueline and gave him a facial. (ok, ok so he just happened to get in the way of another slap shot because he’s beginning to make a living by standing in front of the net.) It was hysterical and Bickell would not stop! For a second there Shaw looked like he wanted to kick a few of the Hawks butts. He reminded me of Mickey Rooney.
There were two other goals in the game, one by Hansen and the other by, Kaner. Hansen’s reminded me of the one weakness Corey had last season – (note I said last season, he’s clearly had a few other issues this year) – the hard shot from the right faceoff circle. Jannik’s shot appeared to hit the left post, but Crow had a lot of net on that side overexposed. Our “Mr. Big” had another solid outing and made several spectacular saves against a very agitated Canuck squad. Keith’s elbow seemed to awaken Vancouver from their lethargic doldrums as they fired 14 shots at Corey in the third. In the classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, Henrik Sedin made a cheap, dirty and despicable play when he slew footed Corey behind our net. Of course, that’s just a hockey play, right? I doubt if Czar Shanny reviewed that one. Little noticed in the Vancouver onslaught was the Hawks had 12 shots themselves in that period – Roberto was not exactly taking a nap at the other end.
Luongo was brilliant, and if it wasn’t for his tidiness in the first two periods, this game would have been long over before the third. Vancouver only recorded a total of 9 shots in the first two periods. Andrew Brunette made a sparkling play behind the Canuck net, leaving Bieksa scratching his ugly head muttering, “Which way did he go, which way did he go?” Bruno made a quick pass to Hossbollah, who quickly through it to a salivating Patrick Kane. Done, done and done. (Here’s a trick question; what’s the verb in the preceding sentence?) There have been a few Hawk fans who have said that Bruno’s time with our top line is short lived. This despite the fact that the line has clicked like a fine Swiss watch. My advice, don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Viktor Stalberg once again went in all alone on a goalie. Sooner or later NHL defensemen are going to realize they cannot skate backwards as fast as Viktor the Valiant can going forward. How many breakaways have we seen from #25 this year?! Stal’s is also getting more clever with the puck and appears to have learned how to skate with his head up. (We’ll work on the chewing bubble gum part at a later date.) His pass to Sharpie was Kaneresque, and Sharp unfortunately fired it into a skate blade of a Canuck defenseman who had his back to Sharp and no idea where the puck was. So much of winning hockey is fortuitous bounces. The worst part of the evening was the disappearance of “Freddy” Kruger – most like due to a “clean” check, yeah right – for half the game. Kruger has really started to come into his own and has played huge during the Captain’s spring break.
Speaking of spring breaks, I’m currently pool side sipping on a cold Margaritta. It’s our annual visit to the “Hillbilly Riviera” in Destin Florida. We’ll be heading down to the beach in a bit to see if the legend of Rocket Rich on the volleyball court still has any merit to it. (and believe me, it’s only a legend in my mind.) We tend to play from around 2pm until sundown, so there’s a good chance, like Duncan, I’ll miss some of the Hawks game tonight. I’m not sure I want to watch are defense without Norris Keith out there – yikes!
I’ll leave you with two thoughts. First, I thought Keith should have only received 3 games. If the punishment is meant to deter this type of play, three games would have been more than enough. (I won’t get into the Detroit and Vancouver conspiracy theories.) The chance of Keith being a repeat offender are slim and none. Secondly, I once wrote Chris Block about Bolland’s flying elbow in last year’s playoffs, laughing and admiring it. I wish I would have kept his reply. He basically pointed out in a couched rebuke, “No one get’s it. The league, the players, the fans – no one gets it. Bolland just gets back from an extended recovery from a concussion and then throws a wicked elbow.”
I think what he was trying to say was put perfectly in an article I read recently on Pavel Datsyuk. Pavel, in regards to all the concussions taking place noted, “It depends on how we treat each other, how much respect we show each other.” I doubt that any of the offenders feels good about himself the morning after giving someone a concussion. Duncan Keith in the heat of the moment obviously made a terrible decision. As my dad would point out, over and over again, “Two wrongs never make a right.”
One other thing Datsyuk said that really made me admire him. He was asked if he could have dinner with anyone he could choose, who would it be. My mind started reeling with multiple possibilities. Datsyuk’s answer was a bit of a surprise, “I wish I could sit down with my mom and dad again.” Wow, clearly Pavel gets it.
Take it away Lucille.