Dec 302013

The DutchmanThe Dutchman

By the shores of the mighty Mississippi
where the “hawk wind” blows so cold
an old Blues fan lay dyingv
in his midnight hour that tolled

Round his bed, his toothless friends all gathered
Bud Light firmly in hand
They knew his time was short
and on his head they put a Blue’s note cap
from his all time favorite sport

He told them “It’s late and getting dark in  here”
and I know it’s time to go
But before I leave the line-up
there’s just one thing I’d like to know

“Do they still play the blues in St. Louie
when playoff season rolls around
when the snow melts away
do nozzles like Backes and Jackman still play
in the rat infested Scotch Trade” – Steve Goodman with minor changes by da Boomer

By Rich Lindbloom

More on the game against the Duck Dynasty boys in a bit – first things first;

I was at a Hawks game a few years back, when I momentarily morphed into a Blues fan. Perched high in my seat in Section 320, I witnessed a rare shift by Tazer where he was just plain awful. I can’t remember who the Hawks were playing, but I do remember there was a lull in action. It was one of those moments when the United Center gets eerily quiet. After all, we hockey fans can be a studious lot, pontificating on the intricacies of the sport and everything. (Shoot! Hit Someone! Skate! Kill the ref! St. Louis sucks!)

At any rate, Tazer skated by the ref, making one of his classic whiny faces as he headed to the bench. I blurted out, “Get off the ice Toews!” Now I have heard many people holler out “_______, get off the ice!!” (fill in the blank) However, I believe I was the first fan to ever shout for Tazer’s banishment. At least 30 people in our section turned around to see who the moron was who would dare to espouse such sacrilegious words.

The Fels brothers were sitting next to us, and I believe I saw Adam’s entire body jiggle momentarily; a sort of muffled chuckle. Sam, who once told my daughter, “You’re dad is such a nerd,” as I bounded up the stairs, was not amused man. Yet, being the bright lads they are, they knew where I was coming from. (By the way, for all you fans who thought we should have kept Big Buff over Sharpie, I was at numerous games in the 2010 Cup season where I heard, “Bufflin, get off da ice.” Dustin had a propensity to coast when he was stuck out on the ice for an extended shift – that is after about 25 seconds. At his point of his shift, defense becomes an afterthought.)

All that to say – “Avalanche, get off the ice!” The whole stinking lot of ya’s.

Friday night’s thrashing of an over matched Colorado squad brought back a lot of memories from the Nitty Gritty Dirt band’s great album, Will the Circle be Unbroken. Songs such a The Wabash Cannonball, Earl’s Breakdown, Dark as a Dungeon and Lonesome Fiddle Blues, come to mind. Now I realize some delusional Avs’ fans will be quick to point out that they handed us our lunch back on November 19th. However, as I expertly pointed out in a piece entitled, Attack of the Mustard Men, back on November 21st – that was a result of Divine Intervention. The Hawks by all rights should have been the victors in that contest. We outshot the Av’s 37-23, not even counting near misses.

Prior to their game Friday against the Hawks, the Av’s had lost two close contests to the Kings and Sharks, both in shootouts. Both very good teams, but clearly the benchmark of excellence in NHL is how one fares against the high flying Hawks. (The Blues were celebrating goals on Saturday like they had just scored in the waning moments of the seventh game of the Stanley Cup.) St. Bernard’s couldn’t have saved the Avalanche team from the buzz saw they ran into. The Hawks were led by the semi-handsome one, Patrick Sharp who is 8th in the league in scoring at the moment with 41 points. Keeping track of Toews, Hossa and Kane is certainly is a formidable task. Adding Patrick Sharp to that mix is just down right unfair.

I’m pretty sure we’ve all gotten over the Matt Ellison trade in 2005/06 that brought the sharp shooter to Chicago. (To his credit, Ellison is still playing and is roughly a point per game player in the KHL.) In 2009 Victoria Secret named Sharp the sexiest athlete in Chicago, further supporting the “chicks dig scars” axiom. His accolades have grown since that time, being an integral part of two Stanley Cup Champions. His name is currently being strongly considered to be added to the Canadian Olympic team, despite a plethora of talent to choose from. If it weren’t for the Black Magic that is Patrick Kane, he just might be considered the Hawks MVP at the moment. Simply stated, he’s been that good.

His “artful dodger” pickpocket of Av’s star, Matt Duchene, should make all the NHL highlight reels this week. His subsequent pass, setting up Tazer’s second tally of the evening, extinguished whatever hope the Av’s had of getting back into the game. The “Red Wedding Line,” 10/19/81, spent about 80% of their time in the Av’s zone. As was noted about 11th century Irish King Brian Boro and his battle axe, “He went about his red work.”

Coach Q was able to roll four lines, with only Keith and Seabrook logging over 20 minutes. Marcus Kruger won 80% of his draws against the Av’s and 73% against the Blues. That is one of those little things, that plays huge dividends in victories. Did anyone see the remarkable turnaround in Freddy’s face off prowess coming? If you said yes, you’re lying and the truth ain’t in ya. Kruger, Smith and Bollig are a very, very good fourth line – the muscle, the speed and the Swede. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, Ben Smith is here to stay. I truly believe he could play on any of the Hawk’s lines. I believe Kaner extended his points streak to about 103 games in a row now. Think about it – Toews has Hossa and Sharp. Kane has Zus and Versteeg on his line and he’s still second in the league in scoring. Don’t look over your shoulder Sidney. As Satchel Paige once noticed, something may be gaining on you.

In life, we’ll all have moments when we have to swallow a bitter pill. Castor oil moments so to speak. losing to “the hated Blues” certainly is about as unpleasant a moment as there is in life. Although they’ve cleaned up their act a bit the last two years and replaced two or three of their goons with some speedy young skill players, they still go and add a player like Maxim Lapierre – that loathsome, filthy, Frenchy. What’s that saying, “You can’t change a leopards spots?” When the ref’s let them get away with highway robbery, (seriously, only one Blues penalty?), it only exacerbates their malfeasance. I can just hear the nozzles on the Blues bench, “Hey, the refs are letting everything go tonight – Cool!”

How Toews did not draw a penalty when Barrett Jackman tried to chop him in half at the end of the game, makes you wonder if the refs were the Blues 7th man. As Toews tumbles into the boards, Jackman skates over and sort of kicks him. He was constantly crosschecking Hawk fowards in the back. Ben Smith got interfered with what was going to be a clear breakaway on a blatant interference non call. There should be a congressional investigation into Tim Peel’s and Dean Morton’s officiating that night.

Of course, the Hawks could have and should have put this game into the win column. I will give the Blues credit – they are a dangerous team. TJ Oshie did not score a point, but was a huge factor in the Blues victory. He is very hard to take the puck away from. He did do a little acting that the Sedin’s would have been proud of, when Duncan Keith accidentally bumped into him. You want to get over the sting of the Hawk loss last night, just remember the video of Oshie crying on the bench when he hurt his pinky – it’s a classic. Seriously though, he is a Hossa/Saad type player.

The third period seemed to tip in favor of the bad guys. it wasn’t like the Hawks didn’t have a few Grade A chances of their own. However the Blues energy level up until the moment they tied it was irrepressible. Hindsight is 20/20, but Seabrook looked gassed in the third period. I was wondering if the result might have been different if Leddy took a couple of Seabrook’s shifts. Leddy, who has been playing superb hockey of late, only skated 12 minutes. The failure to clear the puck just prior to Berglund’s goal was a mortal sin.

The Hawks once again asserted their dominance in the third period, controlling the puck for about 4 of the five minutes. Elliot made a few key saves to send this exciting game to the Shoot Out. In a sick sort of way, I feel happy for the Blues fans. I’ve been at the United Center and the old Stadium when the Hawks have pulled a seeming defeat out of the fire. There’s no feeling quite like it – winning a game you should have lost. On the second half of a back to back, the Hawks still outshot the Blues 32 to 25. I will say, this is the best Blues team I’ve seen in a long time, however…

For all you worry warts fretting over a possible Blues/Hawks playoff match, chill out. First off, I doubt we’d play them in the first round. Secondly, the Blues will probably not make it out of the first round. Player for player, we still own the Blues. Would you make any of the following trades; Toews/Backes, Kane/Steen, Sharp/Oshie. Hossa/Tarasenko, Saad/Schwartz. I didn’t think so. Remember, the Blues are just another game on the Hawks regular season schedule. I’m still pretty comfortable heading into must win games with the current Hawk line up. The have a pretty good track record. Besides, as Sam Fels pointed out, “I doubt the Blues are smart enough to beat us in a seven game series.” Then again, Phil Robertson has been reinstated to the popular reality show when the A&E producers realized how much money they were going to lose. That political correctness stuff only goes so far.

I do feel a need to weigh in on the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson controversy. Clearly, if asked, the Blues fans would overwhelmingly support Phil Robertson over Charlie Sheen. The same Charlie Sheen that thought he could save Lindsay Lohan- yikes! The fact that I would tend to follow Phil Robertson’s advice over Charlie Sheen’s is not my point though. You see, my wife and I realize that we may need to remodel our living room. While watching Duck Dynasty the other day, my wife made the stark observation that Phil Robertson and his wife Kay, have the exact, same living room couch that we do! It’s sort of a goldish, reddish paisley pattern. Kay reportedly picked it out because their dog liked it.

Nathalie and I were left pondering the obvious. What does it say about are decor that it is featured on Duck Dynasty!? I’m not sure we’d make it in Better Homes and Gardens. Our brother in law came to the rescue at Christmas dinner though when he noted,  “At least you guys don’t have it on the front porch.”

Duck DynastyThe St Louis Blues

People say that I’m no good, and crazy as a loon
’cause I get up in the morning, I get down in the afternoon
Kind of like my old blue tick hound I like to lay around in the shade
And I ain’t got no money, but I damn sure got it made.
And I ain’t asking nobody for nothing, if I can’t get it on my own
If you don’t like the way that I’m living,
you just leave this long haired country boy alone.” – Charlie Daniels

Happy New Year everyone!

Rich Lindbloom

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