St. Louis’ Public Enemy #1 – Brent (Alphonse) Seabrook
By Rich Lindbloom
Patrick (Joey bag o’donuts) Kane, leader of the renowned Chicago Outfit, and his associates prevailed in the 3rd overtime contest of this rather impolite Quarter Final Slug-athon. Kaner’s ICBM ripped into the twine behind Ryan Miller, puncturing the hopeful souls of the Blue’s faithful. As the clock approached midnight, their glass slippers were shattered into a thousand pieces.
Consequently, the Best-of-Seven series has now been reduced to a Best-of-Three series. Kaner was pretty much black magic all night long, slotting in with last year’s bunkmate’s, Tazer and Bickell. Coach Ken Hitchcock was none too pleased with the space and time Crazy 88′s had in Game Four.
Expect that to change when Hitchcock gets the last change Friday night in St. Louis. If it can be avoided, I really don’t want to see Vladimir Sobotka’s line facing our prima-donna’s. The Hawks chances have been greatly aided and abetted now that Bryan (Big Tuna) Bickell has decided to turn himself into a human bowling ball. And make no mistake about it Jim W., when Bicks’ hits someone, he is going to pick up that ten pin! It appeared Sobotka had a conversation with the Coo Coo bird after a legal, crushing check in the third period. Clearly stunned, Sobotka returned after a brief trip to the locker room. Apparently he knew his name, so they let him back out on the ice. Lapierre was also crushed by Ben (Benji) Smith in the third period, but it is debatable whether a person with a rudimentary brain stem can be concussed.
Actually, the hitting in this series would make Al Capone proud. Reportedly, Alphonse was pretty deadly with the lumber in his hands also. If players hit in the regular season like they do in the playoffs, no one would be left standing come postseason. Although the Bluenotes have out hit the Hawks in the first 4 games 42-27, 26-18, 41-27 and 42-32, it seems the Hawks hits have been more impactful. Certainly none was more thunderous than Seabrook sledge hammering David Backes into the middle of next week at an inopportune time in Game Two. Purportedly, Seabs used the Flip Wilson Defense when interrogated by the league’s new disciplinarian Stephane Quintal – “The devil made me do it!”
This matchup so far has been everything you could hope for in a seven game series. (Unfortunately for those of you with weak stomachs, I believe this series will be decided at the Scottrade Center on Tuesday, April 29th.)
There have been the obligatory post whistle kerfuffles where facials, (which are normally run about $60.00), are given for free. Improbable, last “minute” comebacks have been the norm, making these contests especially gut wrenching. Great goaltending, despite the relatively high scores in 3 of the 4 games. The healthy hatred the two teams, and their fans, have for each other is as good as it gets in the NHL. Apparently the referees have also decided to let anything go short of amputation. Things can become a bit cantankerous on frozen pond in April when the referee’s adopt their “see no evil” mindset.
Quite ironically, and largely based on Seabrook’s salient message to Backes, (although Duncan “The Knife” Keith has been singled out for an overabundance of stick work), some people around the NHL have accused the normally angelic Hawks of dirty play. Blues fans are normally quite comfortable with their team’s malfeastic ways. Listening to them cry foul is certainly is a pretty hilarious case of the pot calling the kettle black. Nonetheless, the accusations made me pause and reflect on an old Irish anecdote about a writer interviewing a countrywoman;
“The editor is seated with a countrywoman at the door of her cottage in an isolated place. Three young girls on their way to a dance come along. They adjust their head-shawls, showing off a little. “They are pretty girls,” the editor says to the householder. “If they were hung for their beauty, they’d die innocent,” is her reply. This is a real piece of wit. She did not want to contradict one who is her guest. He has shown, however, that his standard of beauty leaves something to be desired.” – Padraic Colum
Hawk fans, could our standard of beauty be a bit tainted? Whatever your view, if the referee’s keep letting obvious infractions go unchecked, the Hawks have little choice but to follow that age old adage; “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Two players on the Hawks who had been rather quiet in the first three games of this series, Shaw and Leddy, were a bit more noticeable in Game Four. Andrew (The Weasel) Shaw’s name seemed to come up quite a bit. Shaw took an ill-advised penalty that Pat Foley harped about for the next few minutes, before tallying the Hawks first goal in the second period. (Whose side are you on Pat?) With all the infractions the referee’s turned a blind eye to, sending Shaw to the hoose-gow for checking Ott in the head as he left the ice was blind justice. Dude, that’s playoff hockey! You can’t convince me that Ott did something to Shaw first.
Later in the game, Barret Jackman checks Shaw into the boards well after the whistle had blown and Foley jokingly laughs it off as a rough ride? I guess in the ref’s view that was a hockey play? Shaw centered a line that included Kris (houdini) Versteeg and Brandon (The Saad Father) Saad, that proved fairly effective in this game. Saad was flat out dangerous. Either he or Papa Hoss are my picks to click in Game Five.
Towards the middle of the third period I thought to myself, “Has Nick (Bugsy) Leddy had a shift in the third period yet?” As was pointed out by Sam Fels many Hawk knowledgeable Hawk fans, (and I think yo know who you are), thought this might be the time for Leddy to have a breakout moment. Leddy has one assist and is a plus 0 thus far against the Blues. Not exactly anything to write home about.
However, about 30 seconds after wondering about his playing time, he made two beautiful pinches that sealed the puck in the enemy’s zone. He can do this because his lightning fast skating abilities allow him to take chances. His effort led to Bryan Bickell’s game tying deflection off a Rozsival shot that eventually turned the tide in the good guys favor.
The rest of course was left up to the very capable hands of the player Blues coach Ken Hitchcock referred to as the most dangerous player in the NHL in his post-game briefing. Kaner materialized out of nowhere to bury a sa-weet pass by Johnny (The Swede) Oduya in the second period. (Was it just me, or did the second period seem like it was a short eternity?) Kaner also abused the crossbar in the third period. It didn’t make quite the sound Bickell’s wrister did; that shot sounded like somebody was ringing the bells at the Nortre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Kaner’s wrist shot to put the game on ice can only be described in one word – “Wicked.” The essence of that shot can be found at the tail of end of the song “Stockholm” by the New Fast Automatic Daffodils. Trust me when I say the following is for your listening pleasure. The song is best listened to at volume 11.
Well, as the turf wars continue tonight between the Chicago and St Louis outfits, I expect the Blues to try and straighten out a few of the misbehaving Hawks. Coach Hitchcock said this is no time to be sending messages – why don’t I believe him? It is clear that the Blues will resort to almost anything to take over Chicago’s NHL operations.
Hopefully, the Blues will be sleeping with the fishes, errr I mean hitting the links after Sunday’s matinee.
Other Important Stuff:
The Columbus vs. Pittsburgh game the other night was one of the greatest games I ever watched. After the Penguins went up 3-0, Mike Milbury stated, “Pittsburgh’s skill is finally taking over.” Wrong! What took over was the heart of a Blue Jacket club that does not know the meaning of the word quit. The Blue Jacket fans seemingly stood from the second period on, exhorting their warriors to heights they probably didn’t think they were even capable of.
Even though the Hawks game had started, I had to watch the joyous celebration in Columbus. It’s one of those games that come along once in a blue moon. 20 years from now, Jacket fans will be recalling that incredible comeback. The Blue Jackets are the best “Team” in hockey right now – truly a band of brothers. The letter i is not in their vocabulary. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Johansen is playing as well as anyone in the NHL right now. Stick tap to the BJ’s!
Before this series is over, either Sheldon (Mugsy) Brookbank or Lapirre will be sent to jail for manslaughter.
Semyon Varlamov cost the Avalanche another game on Thursday by failing to shut out the Minnesota Wild. The Av’s had a grand total of 11 shots on goal. Something tells me, the Avalanche’s dike is about to burst.
Would all the pundits quick talking about soft goals or “that’s one he’d like to have back.” When Tarasenko or Toews fire a shot from the top of the circle, trust me, those are not routine saves. When Fleury gave up the game winning goal to Foligno on Wednesday, the puck was knuckling like crazy. Have any of you ever tried to catch a knuckleball?
David Backes is still rumored to be “in a dark room, with no curtains, at the station” – insert a little waa-waa guitar here. I truly hope he is mending, but if he is and dresses in this series, all hell will break loose. I thought it was quite hilarious that he wanted to challenge Tazer to a fight while he was being held up by the trainer after Seabrook’s hit. He definitely suffers from a bad case of tazer envy.
Wakey Wakey Blackhawks. This Blues team means business.
From a post by Sam Fels a few years back – Ken Hitchcock’s favorite ice cream – “Bacon.”
“This American system of ours… call it Americanism, call it Capitalism, call it what you like, gives to each and everyone of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.”
Seize the moment Hawks, seize the moment!