“Suns up, uuh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I’m wondering where the lions are
Oh I’m wondering where the lions are…” – Bruce Cockburn
By Rich Lindbloom
Wings 2 Hawks 0 – that one really hurt.
An intense feeling of ennui is the only way to describe how I felt at 10pm last night. Close but no cigar – what the little boy shot at – goose egg – Sarah’s barren womb – hopelessness – a loss for words (ha, never!) – finger pointing and the blame game. Indeed, Kate Smith finally appears to be dragging the moon over the mountain. Clearly the fat lady is clearing her vocal cords. Although we may not know where the lions are, the Wings are clearly in the driver’s seat. If I was lying on a shrinks couch and he asked me, “Well, how did Game Four make you feel,” I’m not sure I would have an adequate answer. And then I would chop him to little pieces with a dull axe shouting at him with every blow, “How does that make you feel.”
Although it’s not a sure fire remedy, listening to Bruce Cockburn’s wonderful song, Wondering Where the Lions Are,goes a long way to soothing deep feelings of despair. Listening to it puts a little step into downtrodden feet. It’s a sure fire remedy to temporarily take your mind off of an abysmal power play that could only be described as Bad Bad Bad, face-off woes, dumb penalties and the subsequent whining about them – or the sickening sound of clanging posts. Music has a unique way of anesthetizing the way we feel according to Elvis Costello – I think he’s on to something there. Songs like Cheer Up Sleepy Jeanie or The 59th Street Bridge song, just sound better at certain times in our lives. How can you not smile when you hear a line like “Let the morning time drop all its petals on me, life I love you all is groovy.” I know you’re smiling now!
Obviously, all is not groovy with the Hawks at the moment. Where do we start?
The powerless play is as good a place as any I guess. I’m going to have to start popping Dramamine pills when we go on the man advantage in the future. The Hawks first unit is redefining the word pathetic, taking that word where no word has ever ventured before. It’s to the point where observing the teacher drag her fingernails across a chalk board would be preferable than watching the Hawks trying to set up camp in our opponents zone. It’s a tell-tale sign of how weak the PP has been, when Crawford has to make the best saves during the two minute man advantage. I can imagine Coach Q thinking, “Oh no, not another power play,” and then shouting out to crow “Be awake #50!”
I don’t have any magical solutions – but if I’d had to make one observation, it seems were way to tentative. We’re attempting to enter the Wing zone with the urgency of a three legged turtle. It’s beginning to resemble a really sick game of “Red Rover.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it appear our forwards are downshifting into second gear as the puck carrier attempts to skate through a Mensa problem? And I’m probably wrong on this observation, but it seems at times that one of our players will skate towards another player on his team? In the aviary world that’s what’s known as killing two birds with one stone.
It’s not like the Wings have lit the lamp with regularity either – but at least they are setting it up and getting some great looks on the PP. While the Hawks are on the PP, the opposing goalie can pretty much take a nap. If I owned the Sominex company, I’d pay for an advertisement every time the Hawks go on the PP. Again, I have no miracle suggestions to the PP dilemma. Maybe the answer is a lot more spin-o-ramas? Hail Mary’s? The Flying V as a way to enter the zone? Wrap arounds? Goalies slipping and falling on their duffs-why can’t we catch a break like the Rangers?!
Secondly, anytime Lady Luck would like to make an appearance would be just be fine with me. Five posts in the last two games? Leddy’s shot in Game Four was tantalizingly close, it was as if the Fates were trolling us. Jacob Kindl’s goal was a fine bit of sniping, aided and abetted by a that burr under the saddles, (otherwise known as Justin Abdelkader’s), huge screen. When it clanked off the post and into the net – well – sometimes you just have to wonder.
While the game progressed, or digressed as the case may be, they kept showing highlights of Tukka Rask’s miscue. For those of you who missed it, it brought back memories of the kids in their boots playing goalie. I’m not trying to take anything away from Jimmy Howard who has been sensational this series, but 3 months ago many wing fans were calling for his head on a platter. It just might take a little luck to get one by him, but…
Dave Bolland, Tazer –twice, Kaner or Sharp have to convert one or two of their wide open shots. Those were just five of the point blank opportunities that were squelched by Howard, that I can recall. Stalbergs and Leddy’s great bursts of speed around the Wings left d-man, certainly could have led to the red light flashing. Frolik’s set up for Bolland was the best chance, but he either flubbed trying to lift it over a sprawling Howard, or decided to go through the one area that Howard had clearly sealed off, his five hole. You can’t win many games in the NHL if you don’t convert those type of opportunities.
Staying away from the blame game, (and it’s really hard not to jump on that band wagon), is about as useful as tits on a bull. I was ready to complain about Handzus, and then I remembered he also had two prime chance on Thursday. I heard a radio announcer on Friday morning loudly sounding the death knoll for the Hawks. With the Hawks down 3-1 in the series, he really went out on a limb with that prediction. Inexplicably, I found myself clenching my teeth and giving my radio the finger, while muttering unprintable epithets in its general direction. Yeah, the Hawks are driving me crazy also – but I’m pretty sure no one in the Hawks locker room has thrown in the towel. The players may be a little confused as to who their line mates may be, but there has been zero signs of quit in this team. For the fans who are saying this season means nothing, I’d like to remind them of the Marines slogan “Semper Fi” – literally, always faithful.
Mt. St. Jonny finally exploded – and I’m thinking that could be a good thing – let me explain. On the rare occasion that my wife and I have had knock down, dragged out no holds barred fight, after the fight she’d say, “I feel so much better now, don’t you?” Women can be a little strange that way. Hopefully Tazer is feeling a lot better right now and has gotten all that stuff out of his system. Other than spending a little too much time in the Box of Shame, Toews had a pretty solid Game Four. I’m not ready to see the “C” stripped from his chest yet. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict a multi-point Game 5, #1 Star of the game and a smile on Tazer’s face at the end of tonight’s tussle. Or his head will explode. I know one thing, if Nathalie tells me one more time that Zetterberg has a great beard, my head might explode. Screw Zetterberg and the horse he rode in on!
Coach Q has been screwing with the lines more and more. It’s well beyond the tinkering stage. The Random Line Generator was busier than a one armed bandit in the hands of a retiree frittering away their life savings at one of the gambling joints that continue to pop up everywhere, like dandelions in Spring. To say the lines were as mixed up as Pedro’s breakfast is an understatement. I’m not sure who was Frolik’s and Kruger’s linemate during the game. However, I’d love to see them get some more ice time. Detroit’s third line defense pairing seemed to have a hard time keeping track of them. Calling Agent Smith, calling Agent Smith?
Well Hawk fans, we are officially at the doorstep of our first must win of the season. For those of you view this “game” as life or death – “keep passing the open windows.” As a shrink would so wisely advise one game at a time Blackhawks – one game at a time. What did we win- about 50 straight games this season? Are you telling me we can’t string three together? As Nathalie would say, “Talk to the hand.” As Satchel Paige once noted, “You win a few and lose a few, Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them.” The chips are going to fall where they will tonight – nothing we can do about that. Count me in the camp that thinks were going to be “feeling” a lot better at the conclusion of Game Five. Let’s try and save those handshakes for another day.
May the goals for the Hawks rain down like the helicopter seeds from the Maple trees for the Hawks tonight! I’m not ready for that old lonesome road just yet.
“Had another dream about Lions at the door
They weren’t has as frightening as they were before
But I’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.” – Bruce Cockburn
Rich Lindbloom is the author of the book War Drums in the Distance: Special Moments in a three year quest for hockey’s Holy Grail, a collection of pieces written on the Chicago Blackhawks return to prominence and up to the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup Championship. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com or for the Kindle.