Lindbloom’s View: Everything Means Less Than Zero

Lindbloom_RedPads“You know the angels wanna wear my red pads…”

“Oh I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have gotten rusted,
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.” – Elvis Costello

By Rich Lindbloom

Well, at least the mystery has been solved in regards to Crow’s red goalie pads.

In an effort to spur the growth of hockey in the United Kingdom, Elvis was allegedly seen in Crawford’s pads at a recent performance in London. It crossed my mind this week that you never hear anything about hockey in the UK. And this is a country that at one time conquered most of the known world. Truly unacceptable.

I’m pretty sure England’s domination was not accomplished with economic sanctions. No, the Brits were mighty warriors in their day – seemingly a perfect fit for the game of hockey. Quite astonishingly, I can’t recall one hockey player ever emanating from the UK. It may be a coincidence, but it would appear their decline as a world super power was concomitant with explosion of that decadent rock and roll noise. I’m not sure if that boogie-woogie music was the cause or effect of the UK’s demise on the world stage.

In 1976 Elvis Costello released his My Aim is True classic, perhaps accelerating England’s demise in the process. Elvis had toiled by day for roughly 7 years as a data entry clerk, while playing the London pub scene at night. There was no looking back after the album’s release. With tongue in cheek, Elvis described himself as being “an overnight success after 7 years.”

My Aim is True is one of those rare albums where every song is a gem. It’s one of your those top ten albums you’d want if you were stranded on an island, assuming you would have someone with you like the professor from Gilligan’s Island.  I’m pretty sure he could make a record player out of a couple of coconuts in no time.

Unfortunately the Hawks aim has been less than true lately. Kris Versteeg, who otherwise had a solid game against the Mustard Men, rifled a wrister inches outside the pipe. It was a golden opportunity from about 6 paces in the slot, I think in the third period. The shot could have been a game changer, but sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Actually, I’m not Angry at Steegernaut’s near miss. When I watched a replay of the shot, I noticed Pekka Rinne was closing the gap rapidly, and might have blockered away the shot had it been on goal. I believe Duncan Keith blasted a similar prime opportunity in that game and they are still searching for that puck. (I’m seriously starting to think Keith should go to the wrister over slapper – can you imagine how many pucks would miss the net if they had chosen him to do the commercial where Niklas Backstrom blasts a pile of pucks at the net?)  In the NHL, you pretty much have to aim for the pipes if you want light the lamp. The goalies are just too good to “just get it on net.”

Patience is growing very thin amongst Hawk fans in regards to Versteeg’s point production. I would urge more patience on this matter. Other than our robotron, Tazer, no one is exactly scoring with regularity. What I’ve noticed is how hard Steeg’s working – and hard work generally translates into success in any aspect of life. Coach Q has been pulling the arm on the Random Line Generator with regularity the last few games with Big Hoss on the sidelines. One line combo I really liked was Versteeg/Regin/Bickell. Always on the verge of being placed in Q’s doghouse, this trio was very aggressive in the Avalanche game. The “Doghouse Line” does have a nice ring to it, no?!

A large part of their success was due to the improved play of our $4 million dollar man. Brian Bickell was close to spending as much time on the pine as Antti Raanta lately. Number 29 seems to be much more engaged when jumping over the boards lately. I had to do a double take, but unless my eyes are failing me, I saw Bicks out on the ice when the Hawks pulled Crawford against the Preds. Someone call Ripley’s! A motivated Pit Bick does not bode well for the opposition come playoff time.

I have those Sneaky Feelings that many Hawk fans are still not sold on Mr. Big, Corey Crawford. When Corey let in that breakaway goal on Ryan Ellis the other night, a friend of mine hollered out, “Crawford you suck.” This was the same friend who asked me a few weeks ago, “What do you think about Crawford?”

In other words, he was hoping I would confirm his suspicion that Crawford is slightly above sieve status. The mother hen in me immediately blurted out, “He’s ten times better than Raanta.” Obviously, this was not the most intelligent hockey conversation that ever took place. I did backtrack a little and retract my “ten times better” statement when I calmed down.

What my friend probably doesn’t know, (and I didn’t until I looked it up), is Ryan Ellis was the 11th pick in the 2009 entry draft. The dude is talented. He has played on three Canadian World Junior Championship teams, winning gold once and silver twice. Actually, he’s part of a young Predator defensive corp that includes Michael Del Zotto, (20th pick in the 2008 draft) and Seth Jones, (4th pick in 2013 draft). Seth Jones will be a super star someday – take that to the bank.

Although the real problem stemmed from Keith and Sharp forgetting Ellis’s penalty was expiring. “Well dammit. An elite goalie would have made that save,” say many of Corey’s detractors. I actually got into a debate over at The Committed Indian site this past week, defending Crawford after someone said that Crow was slightly above average. He and other bloggers noted that there are only a few elite goalies in the NHL. The ones they picked were Lundquist, Rask, Rinne and Price. Out of the handful of great net minders they did place in the elite category, (and all deserved to be there), none have ever won the Stanley Cup.

Another blogger once again brought up the two weak goals that eluded Crow in the playoff series vs. Phoenix two years ago. Hawk fans, you really need to let go of those miscues. Tracy Meyer’s even noted this week, “Crawford has won 3 of his last 4 starts, ‘but…’ was lit up for 5 goals in 44 minutes last October to the Preds.” That’s the vibe I get all the time from Hawk fans – “but…” when it comes to our net minder. Let me be perfectly clear on this; Crow is not an average goalie. Our 52 pick in 2003 should have been the Conn Smythe winner last year. Since the Olympic break, Crawford sports a 1.86 GAA and .926 SV% in his last 6 games.

Seriously now, how can you say he’s no good when the angels have stolen his red pads?

While Watching the Detectives the last two games, I must say I think we’re getting the short end of the whistle. Kane was clearly shoved into Varlamov in the Avalanche game. Later in that game, one of the players on Colorado goes flying into Crow, and nothing was called. I just don’t get it sometimes. In the Predator game, Sheldon Brookbank was whistled for interference. Why I couldn’t argue that call, there were at least 3 instances where the Predator meatheads did the same thing. My take on why we’ve been in a scoring quagmire lately is threefold; hot goalies, in fortuitous bounces and refs overlooking the clutch and grab by our adversaries. Playing Sheldon Brookbank at forward was pretty close to making that list!

While I hesitate to Blame it on Cain, err I mean Shaw, Andrews interference call when he wasted Marc Andre Cliche, was one of the dumbest penalties I’ve seen all year. (Marcus Kruger deciding to heft one into the stands 30 second later was another clear proof of Murphy’s first and second laws.) I have two theories for what happened when Chicken Hawk committed the infraction.

First, Cliche very likely could have slashed or done something to Shaw earlier in the game. If that was the case Shaw was justified in his action, although probably could have picked a better time to administer vigilante justice. Option #2 is that Shaw might be a carrier of the recessive Carcillo Gene (also known as the goon gene) in his chromosome. Although somewhat rare, when it expresses itself from time to time, bad things tend to happen. If the Carcillo Gene is the culprit, there’s little that can be done I’m afraid. The time out box does not seem to be an effective deterrent. It probably would be a good idea to get Shaw tested for this renegade gene, just so what we know what we’re dealing with here.

In closing, while I realize there are a lot of Hawk fans who are beginning to panic as April approaches, bear in mind Elvis’s sagacious observation; Everything Means Less Than Zero. That is until the playoffs start. We are still one of the best teams in the NHL. I guarantee you, no club in the Western Conference is saying, “Man, I hope we get to play the Hawks in the first round.”

While there are no guarantees in the playoffs, if our aim improves a little, I still like our chances.

Rich Lindbloom

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