Mar 222014

Lindbloom_2014Mar2JulieAndrewsTime to put on your inner Julie Andrews.

“I should be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the road less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost 

By Rich Lindbloom

I heard Lynyrd Skynard’s Free Bird playing on two different stations Thursday morning on my way into work. That was a very good way to describe how I felt after the Hawks dismantling of the team with the best record in hockey. But I just couldn’t get the image or song, The U. C. is Alive with the Sound of Music, out of my head. At 10 pm on Wednesday, I felt pretty and witty and gay! I was perched firmly on Cloud Nine. I know a lot of you would have picked Free Bird, however, much like Robert Frost I took the road less travelled; consequently, I have been trying to figure out where I am ever since.

There is no team I enjoy watching the Hawks trample more than the Blues. Irritating, obnoxious, bellicose, prone to delusions of grandeur only begin to describe the malfeasance laden thugs from the west side of the muddy Mississippi. Don’t even get me going on their fans. A word to the wise; never confront a Blues fan wearing a Polak jersey. The additions of Brenden Morrow (six seasons over 100 penalty min.), Steve Ott (seven seasons over 100 penalty min.) and Maxime Lapierre (only one season over 100 penalty min. but that is because of limited playing time on the fourth line.), pretty much define St. Louis Blues hockey.

I heard the old O’Jays song Back Stabber  Thursday morning and it reminded me of both Jackman, who has perfected the art of crosschecking opponents in the lower back, and the Blues in general;

“They smile in your face
all the time they want to take your place
the back stabbers.

After the shellacking the Hawks administered to the Blues on Wednesday, it doesn’t appear they will be taking the Hawks place anytime soon.

Recently, it appeared the Blues were finally beginning to realize that the object of the game is to outscore your opponent, as they amassed a slew of speedy young forwards with actual hockey talent. Jaden Schwartz, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladamir Tarasenko will be plying their considerable talents in the NHL for some time to come. Losing Tarasenko to a hand injury was a major blow to the Blues’ Cup aspirations.

However, in the end, I believe the Blues mindset of “we are going to physically beat our opponents into submission” will eventually be their undoing. A tiger just can’t change its stripes. How else can you explain a fourth line with Reaves, Ott and Lapierre on it? Is there a Hawk fan alive that does not want to see David Backes shown the wickedness of his ways? Much to their credit, even Blues fans seriously questioned the addition of Lapierre in the off season.

At the end of the Blues game last Monday vs. the Winnipeg Jets, Coach Bacon Hitchcock threw out Polak, Jackman, Reaves, Lapierre and Backes out on the ice with seconds left in the game. What could possibly go wrong? The Blues were up 3-1 at this point. Big Buff wasted Barrett Jackman and they started to have a go at it. That’s when Roman Polak decided he wanted some of Buff also. I couldn’t get all the numbers of the Jets on the ice at this time, but it appeared it was their top line – not exactly their sandpaper guys. If you still need an answer to why Brandon Bollig is on the Hawks, look no further than that incident.

Actually, I observed Bollig when they panned in on him during the National Anthem and he had that look on his face. The heightened look of awareness on an enforcer who knew his talents may be called upon that night. It appeared he was on edge, almost certain that he would be dancing with one of the aforementioned graduates of the charm school located in Joliet. (think Steve Goodman’s famous Lincoln Park Pirates) It sort of is an indictment on the Blues tough guys, but not once did I see one of their known nozzles try to engage B-52. No, but they can be pretty tough against guys like Shaw, Smith or Versteeg.

If David Backes is the tough guy he thinks he is, why wouldn’t he test himself against someone like Bollig? Actually, Backes was pretty much invisible after a thunderous check on one of our other tough guys, Patrick Kane. Sorry Blues fans, if Backes is the heart and soul of the Blues, you are worshiping a false god. In my opinion, he needs to take a good look in the mirror and keep repeating, “I am not Jonathan Toews, I am not Jonathan Toews…” In fact, I’m not even sure he was a Brandon Bollig on Wednesday.

Apparently Coach Q liked what he saw when Pit Bicks opened up a can of whoop-ass on Wayne Simmonds on Tuesday. The beauty of it all was Simmonds started it by spearing Bickell in the skate. I’m not sure the elevator goes to the top floor in Simmonds world. Brian saw his ice time jump to over 14 minutes against the Blues – pretty sure that’s Q’s method of positive reinforcement.

Bickell also had three prime opportunities that narrowly missed striking pay-dirt against the Blues. Only Miller’s lanky body kept the puck out of the net, although I’m pretty sure his shoulders aren’t feeling too hot after absorbing #29’s prodigious wristers. Bickell’s best shot might have been one a lot of you missed. After Backes took a run at Kaner, Polak decided he also wanted to send a message to #88. He was roughing Patrick up pretty good when Bickell intervened. As the play went up ice, Bickell gave Polak a good shot to the face. Now that’ hockey. Expect Coach Q to boost Bickell’s time at least another minute for that effort.

Coach Q rolled all four lines against the Blues, with Patrick Kane skating only a little more than 11 minutes. Could Regin be getting out of Q’s dawg pound. Peter Regin joined Bollig and Freddy on a line that doesn’t look like it lost a step since losing their season long compadre, Ben Smith. Smitty was bumped up with the hire ups on line two. Of course, with Teuvu Teravainen perhaps joining the Hawks, expect the Random Line Generator to be given a few more pulls. (On a side note, I think we should draft only Americans or Canadians. I’ll be spell checking TT’s name for a while. It took me over a year to nail Hjalmarsson’s down. In fact, I still use Hammer more often than not.)

Our defensemen were superb against the Blue notes, most notably Hjalmarsson and Seabrook. (By the way, we really need to try and lock Nick Leddy into a manageable contract soon.) Seabrook had his best game of the season in my opinion. He was a one man wrecking ball against the Blues. He didn’t even shoot or kick a goal into his own net this game!

And for the second game in a row, Norris Keith found the back of the net. His goal against the Blues came as close to trash talk as you can come without using words. The puck hit the post, and then rolled along the entire net to the opposite side, much like a bobsled hurtling down its course. If you were a Blues fan, it had to be painful to watch the puck kiss the entire net.

Oddly, the Hawks seemed to be the team with the most energy in this contest. You would expect the Hawks to be a little off after playing the night before in the cesspool that is Philadelphia. I actually think I saw Kris Versteeg yawning during the National Anthem! It would be interesting to do a study of “good” team’s results in the second game of back to backs. I’ve always expected an easier game against an opponent that played the night before. More and more, I’m beginning to think it doesn’t matter, or is even a plus for the team that did play the previous night. But that’s just me thinking.

The very satisfying victory over the Blues was largely accomplished by the best Hawk “team” defense I’ve seen all season. The talented Blues’ forwards had very little time to make decisions with the puck. Smothering defense sort of chokes the life out of an opponent – more of this please. The lopsided outcome, which was not as close as the final score indicated, seemed to be a statement to the Blues reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s Mystery Dance song; “Don’t bury me, cuz I’m not dead yet…”

In closing, I actually had the tickets for the Blues game and had been looking forward to this contest for some time. This was the type of game that can, on occasion, get me to yell really stupid things from the 300 Section. However, my daughter was coming home on the 21st and I wanted to get to a game with her while she was home. Taylor is actually the reason we split season tickets with some friends in the first place. Trading the Blues game for the Preds game was a no brainer though. It’s a very special moment when Taylor and I can watch a game together.

Taylor was there at “The Edmonton Game” on December 27, 2007 – one of the greatest Hawk games I’ve ever witnessed. We missed the first 10 minutes of the first period standing in the bitter cold while waiting to buy tickets. That was the night the Martin Lapointe looked up to the 300 Section after the game and applauded the peanut gallery. The Hawks had an on ice celebration for at least ten minutes after the game, skating around and waving to the fans. It was the night when hockey was reborn in the city of Chicago.

I bring this up because there was a recent article about how to make the game more appealing to women. You know, pink jerseys, pink gloves and Justin Bieber bobble head night sort of thing.  In my mind, promotions are not a bad thing. However, hockey always was and always will be about what takes place on the ice. You like it, or you don’t. Hell, Taylor had a Mark Bell poster on her wall until Jonathan Toews came along! I’m sure we’ll be there when the doors open Sunday and stay until the #1 Star of the Game finishes his postgame interview. (I miss Sarah Kustok!)

Watching hockey with your daughter, it just don’t get no better than that!

“Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things.”  Oscar Hammerstein II

I might add kicking the Blues ass – but that doesn’t rhyme!

Other important Stuff:

Can we at least agree that if Corey is not one of the elite goalies in the league he’s only a millimeter below them?

How confident am I in Mr. Big? Well, I had the option to play Ben Bishop who has been phenomenal this year over Corey in my Fantasy League on Wednesday. It wasn’t a particularly good match up for Corey, as the Hawks had played the night before and they have had to change the light bulb on the goal lamp behind the net several times this season in St. Louie. I took the sink or swim approach and now pretty much have the 4 goalie points locked up for this week!

The Blues fans have been buying a clever t-shirt called “Miller Time” lately. Surprisingly when I visited the stlouisgametime blog site, one of the writers told me some fans still question trading Halak – that surprised me a bit. Of course they have to remember they did get cheap shot artist Steve Ott in the deal – although as I noted above that may be a setback in the long run.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the team with the best record in hockey, is not necessarily the best team in hockey.

I think that Fifth Feather pointed out that the Hawks need some point production from their blueline last week. Keith and Leddy must have been listening. Ditto for the secondary scoring from the likes of Vertsteeg, Smith, Bicks and Shaw type grinders.

I’m guessing that I was not alone in thinking that even though we had a two goal lead against the Blues after two periods and were dominating the play, St. Louis was going to get a cheap goal and make a game of it.

Is it just me, or does beer taste a little better with a three goal lead in the third period against the Blues.

I just can’t get the picture out of my head of Backes standing in front of a mirror saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest Captain of them all…”

Thanks to Karen M for photoshopping Bollig’s jersey on Maria!

Kaner is not the only one on IR right now. 87 year old Earl Deutsch is recovering from a hip injury, (RoseLee is denying she hip checked him). Earl and RoseLee have been attending Hawk games since the early 50’s. RoseLee did not need any promotions to get her “hooked” on this game either. Actually it took attending one game! Earl. We’re praying you’re back for the playoffs or sooner.

Rich Lindbloom

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