Lindbloom’s View: Attack of the Mustard Men

Lindbloom_Img01_2013Nov21“My dog died yesterday and left me all alone.
The finance company stopped by and repossessed my home.
But that’s just a drop in the bucket babe, compared to losing you,
and I’m down to seeds and stems again too.
Got them down to seeds and stems again blues.”
– Commander Cody

By Rich Lindbloom

After the Nashville game last Saturday, I started to ponder the meaning of life. Losing to the Predators has that kind of effect on me – I doubt even the brain addling effects of alcohol could have helped me. Instead of resorting to “oh demon alcohol,” I started Googling “meaning of life quotes,” cementing my depression. It seems most philosophers, as Kahlil Gibran once suggested, suffer from indigestion. I’m pretty sure I would have had a much better time if I had gone to Gonna Drinken 3 at Galway Bar with Hockeenight’s brain trust. (What’s the meaning of life – Fart!) Somehow, I think you get vastly different takes on the meaning of life depending on your sobriety. Stick tap to the boys for raising money for the wounded veterans.

I love the banter at the end of Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon. The bloke at the end is mumbling something and finishes by saying “There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.” That was pretty much most of the philosophers take on life’s meaning. Of course there were a few whose meaning was derived from secular humanism – the ‘be a good person’ angle. That can help put the mind at ease momentarily until you try to answer the question David Byrne of The Talking Heads posed; “Well, how did I get here?” More importantly, where am I headed to? As Woody Allen noted, “I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Then there was a lady who said, “Kissing is the answer, lots of kissing.” I’m not sure how that gets us any closer to the meaning of life, but generally speaking it is quite effective in propagating the next generation of frustrated ponderers. I’m pretty sure she was at Gonna Drinken 3!

There was certainly very little light in the black hole otherwise known as the Predator game. When the highlight of the night is your goalie attempting to crawl back into position despite being in excruciating pain to make a miraculous save, well lets just leave it at “Matter of fact it’s all dark.” Khabby’s effort on that play reminded me of Gregory Campbell trying to kill a penalty for 30 seconds or so after breaking his leg last year. With all the ridicule and doubt of his waning abilities, (Is Cristobal Huet still available?), I think we can all agree that was the play of a veteran warrior. If you can’t appreciate an effort like that, you should be watching another sport. Hoping against hope, I’d like to see Nikolai make a come back, but there’s a good chance he may make a guest appearance at Gonna Drinken 4. It will be interesting to see if Raanta will grab hold of the reins. The last goalie we had with the name Antti turned out rather favorably for the men of four feathers.

It seemed to me that our passing was askew, our lines were discombobulated and our goaltending was porous against the Mustard Men. All I could think about was “We’re going to get torn apart by the Sharks Sunday night.” However, I recall telling a friend before the Predator debacle that there were no easy games in the NHL. On any given night, the worst team in the league can beat the Hawks. (also known as “the best team in the league”) Truth be known, Nashville has been developing an interesting core of younger players-Seth Jones, Colin Wilson and Craig Smith are all very large, talented players. I was particularly impressed with Jones – I believe that kid has a bright future in the NHL. I’m not sure there is a coach in the NHL that gets as much out of his players as Barry “Bolshevik” Trotz. I know I’m not supposed to be, but I was glad to see Viktor Stalberg score on a beautiful 2-1. Wheels are Stalberg.

All that’s left to say about the thrashing in Smashville is my dogs are still alive, I still have a home and my wife hasn’t left me. (I did try marijuana once in the 70’s but I don’t think I inhaled.)

Nervously tuning in to the Shark contest on Sunday, lets just say I was holding my breath. When Corey let in a goal that he initially appeared to stop, I was about to get ready to go back to Googling more meaning of life quotes. What transpired next was one of the most complete games the Hawks have played all year. As Eddy O noted, what impressed him the most was how the Hawks played without the puck. I just love it when we place our boot on the evil Jumbo Joe Thornton’s throat. It was somewhat humorous to see Duncan Keith on the bench advising Nick Leddy how to “do him” with a crosscheck, or worse, after Thornton leveled Leddy with what appeared to be an undetected crosscheck.

Leddy’s partner, Michal Rozsival, appeared to be back in playoff form for this contest after struggling a bit this season. He made great decisions all night long keeping the Sharks at bay. He definitely could have been one of the Three Stars that evening. Actually all three defensive pairings made exiting our zone look commonplace on Sunday. It seemed the Shark fore checkers spent a lot of time chasing down a puck that was already exiting our zone, stage right. “Which way did he go, which way did he go?”

That game was the first chance I got to look at rookie sensation Tomas Hertl on the Sharks this season. He’s a greyhound and huge – and possesses great offensive skills. That being said, you didn’t see him trying to pull any of that fancy, between the legs crap he did on a breakaway earlier this year in a 9-2 blowout of the Rangers. (No doubt, Q would have sent Bollig after him immediately) It occurred to me after watching that goal that in the olden days he most likely would have been forced to defend himself on the next shift.

Even Don Cherry cut him some slack when Ron Maclean asked him about what appeared to be rubbing salt in the wound during the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast the following week. I expected Grapes to go all Don Cherry on the kid. Much to my surprise, Cherry said he was going to cut the kid some slack because he was young and he comes from Europe “where they do that kind of thing.” Got to love Grapes. For those of you who have never seen the “Coaches Corner” feature on Saturday nights Hockey Night in Canada, you don’t know what you’re missing. I missed it last week and really wanted to hear what he had to say about the fan who took Pardy’s helmet off. More on that later.

At any rate, Sunday’s game seemed to give me a sense that all is well with the universe again. Versteeg had two more points, totaling three in two games. I’m not sure how Stan pulled that Steeger trade off, but with Hossa’s ailments and the injury to Bicks, he couldn’t have made that deal at a better time. I’m beginning to think Bowman just might be able to decipher the meaning of life. Versteeg was # 3 Star of the game, behind Pirri and the handsome one. Ya know, I realize I’m not a lot to look at, but I don’t really see why all the damsels get so hot and bothered by Sharp’s alleged handsomeness – if you take a close look at him, he has a lot of facial flaws. There’s quite a few better looking Hawks on the roster. Sharp is pretty good at hockey though. After struggling early on to light the lamp. he now has 7 goals and 13 assists. He is part of the Hawks “Terminator Line,” along with Toews and Hossa. Think death from above of the smell of napalm in the morning.

I still don’t know what to make of Brandon Pirri.  He seems kind of just out there, and all the sudden he puts the puck in the net. He said he learned real fast to just get to the net and Kaner would find him. The transition from toiling in the Big R last season and now finding himself on Crazy 88’s line, has to be a bit like a sweet dream. It’s weird how he seems to have found a good fit there and guys like Kruger and Bolland never seemed to jive with Kane.

By the time the Shark game was over, I once again started thinking the Hawks give meaning to my life. And then…

The Avalanche are really starting to annoy me. There is only one way to describe their seemingly easy 5-1 triumph on Tuesday – a miracle. As some of you know my faith has a strong influence in my life and perspective. Is there a God, or are we here by chance. Is there a heaven and a hell? Or is it as Francois Rabelais once noted, “I am going to the great perhaps.” Currently in BSF we’re looking at Chpt 9 of the Book of Mathew, the transformed, evil tax collector. During this chapter Jesus heals a paralytic, heals a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, raises Jairus’s 12 year old daughter from the dead and give sight to a blind man. Not a bad days work, eh?

If you believe these miracles actually took place, then something supernatural happened. You can go back to the parting of the Red Sea or Passover or a number of miraculous events in the Old Testament if you struggle with the New Testament miracles. There just seems to be something’s that can’t be explained by even the wisest among us. Perhaps there is something beyond the great unknown. This certainly has altered my thinking about the meaning of life and the thought that all of life is random chance governed by a rigid set of physical laws. Despair is trumped by hope. Players like Alexandre Burrows will eventually be dealt with.

Whatever your thoughts, I think most of would conclude that the score against the Avalanche should have been reversed on Tuesday. Make no mistake about it, the Av’s emerging victorious in that game was a minor miracle. The Hawks out shot the Av’s 17 – 8 in the first period and found themselves trailing 3 to zip. That would certainly fall under the headlines of there is no justice in this world. Total shots for the game were 37-23 in favor of the Hawks. It seemed like at least 30 of the final 40 minutes were played in the Sharks zone. Figuratively, if you were trying to scale Mt Stanley Cup, the Sharks defensive zone would have been known as base camp. The Hawks did everything but pitch a tent.

Varlamov certainly had a huge hand in the victory, yet the Hawks seemed to be bucking some unseen force. That game was clearly The Miracle at the Pepsi Center. (Damn you Kris Kringle) If you could forget about the score, it was a highly entertaining game to watch. You hate to point out one mistake as being a tide turner, but Brent Seabrook’s brain fart on his attempted bank pass to Keith that led to the Av’s first goal was brutal. Maybe Coach Q needs to have #7 spend a little time at the billiards table. I don’t mean to single out Seabrook here. The way the game was going if it wasn’t Brent’s gaffe, it would have been some other weird happenstance. No matter what the Hawks did that night, they were going to end up on the short end of the stick. (on a side note though, is it really fair for the other 4 Hawks on the ice to pick up a minus for that goal?) Lest anyone forget, #7 made a tremendous play to thwart Stastny on a two on one just moments before – I wouldn’t get rid of Seabrook just yet.

After awhile I gave up on victory and just rooted for the Hawks to avoid shut out. There’s so much shame in a goose egg. Actually, the Smith/Kruger/Brookbank line is becoming rather formidable. Many people made a big deal out of Smith having to dust off his britches after the Hedja hit. It really wasn’t that hard of a hit, Hedja just caught Benji off balance. Agent Smith has been playing quite well lately – looks like he’s here to stay. If the truth be known, he could be slotted on several of the Hawks lines and blend quite well. The Smith/Freddy/Bollig line has been might be one Coach Q will leave alone- for the moment! They were highly effective against the Jets, with Smith generating several great scoring chances.

The Hawks had a plethora of great scoring chances against the Avs. There is only one way to describe the outcome of that game – Divine Intervention. Trust me, I haven’t lost my marbles when I say I actually enjoyed the game and effort of Tuesday’s 5-1 loss. (ok, ok so I know you know I didn’t enjoy the outcome!)

In closing, during my search for the meaning of life last Saturday, I came across one thought that could help us in our search for life’s meaning. And it’s not the number 42, you hitchhikers. When you’re in the depths of despair, you just may want to hum a few bars of the following song. You may be as confused as ever, but at least it will momentarily put a smile on your face.

“You put your right skate in,
You put your right skate out,
You put your right skate in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hockey Pokey
and you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about.”

It might not get you an appearance on Soul Train, but it’s a start.

Other Important stuff:

The Winnipeg fans were all going to wear helmets to the game after the Adam Pardy incident in Chicago where a fan reached for an unusual souvenir. The Jet’s brass though told the fans no one would get in with a helmet on, squashing their fun. They also noted that the scoundrel who perpetrated the theft of Pardy’s helmet, contacted the Jets organization and Pardy himself, sincerely apologizing for his ill-thought out actions. He also made a sizable contribution to a Winnipeg charitable organization. All’s well that ends well. Still, thanks for making me smile that night you great big goofball.

Did anyone catch Fluffy labeling Dion Phaneuf, “Princess Phaneuf,” last week? And there’s nothing Phaneuf can do about it. I miss John Scott – as a person that is.

Ben Smith against the Jets – yeah that will work. Damn it Bollig, you should have buried that pass he gave you in the third!

Jonathan Toews can play hockey.

Could this be the season Kaner surpasses the 100 point mark?

Possibly, more than any player outside of Niemi, I miss Andrew Ladd the most from the Capacolypse fallout.

More puzzling than the meaning of life, is there ever a valid reason to dress Brookbank in front of Morin again. Welcome back Jeremy, take your skates off and set a spell.

Don’t look now, but the Kings are beginning to dominate. They allowed 17 shots on goal again last night. While Scrivens has been unworldly, and makes me look like a genius for picking him up when Quick was injured in our Fantasy League, (Stan Bowman got nothing on me), I suspect the Kings smothering defense has something to do with it.

Well, we visit the hated, loathed and despised, Alexandre Borrows lead, Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Q, make sure all the Hawks players Rabbi vaccinations are up to date. I think we’ll quickly discover one of the best rivalries in hockey is still alive and well. Pretty sure Bollig will be dropping the mittens in this one. Kaner, Versteeg – stay out of the Roxy and limo’s.

I’m not sure why, but in some sick way, the Hawks add meaning to my mundane life. More so when we emerge triumphant over the rest of the evil in the NHL. When the Hawks win, all is momentarily right with the universe. In fact, a satisfying hat trick in my life is a Hawks win, a good bowel movement and a good night’s sleep. It don’t get no better than that.

Rich Lindbloom

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