Dec 092014
 

Lindbloom_2014Dec09_top“Mom, Andrew’s touching me again…”

A lot of children are interested in fairies, especially young girls, and Tinker Bell is the ueber-fairy. She’s the pin up girl of fairies. She’s the ultimate fairy, but she also has a mischievous spirit and she’s very strong willed. I think a lot of youngsters recognize themselves in Tinker Bell. – Michael Sheen

By Rich Lindbloom

One memory of my childhood I’ll never forget was piling into the old Chrysler station wagon with my mom, dad, 3 brothers and 5 sisters as we headed to Warren Dunes in Michigan.

Honestly, I don’t know how my parents kept their sanity; trust me there was a lot of “Johnny is touching me,” going on. I love the look of the girl in the left of the above picture. She seems to be thinking, “Why am I in this family. My brother is so annoying. How do I get out?”

The trip to Warren Dunes took a little over two hours back in the 60’s. Trust me, on more than one occasion my dad would shout, “If I have to pull this car over it will be curtains for you.” Watching Andrew Shaw play hockey makes me wonder how many times his dad threatened to “take him out” in his youth. Actually, Shaw and I have a similar story that involved us, our dads and tall man. More on that later.

When Shaw deposited 6’2″ 208lbs Predator forward James Neal into the Hawks bench on Saturday, it reminded me of taking out the garbage. I don’t know about your household, but in ours taking out the garbage can be a “wait and see” proposition. How much more garbage can we smash down, before we risk major spillage when finally changing bags? Have you ever had to try and remove a bag that is so full it seems to be sealed to the side of the can by a vacuum like suction?  Nothing like a bunch of coffee grinds, or worse, spilling into the can or on the floor because the bag has exceeded twice the legal limit. When we were kids, it seemed like this chore was one assigned to the boys. That was the days when roles were more clearly defined between the sexes.

Somehow, I suspect this is a role that was assigned to Andrew Shaw when he was a lad. Although Chicken Hawk’s skullduggery put a big smile on my face, I turned to my friend and said, “That’s a penalty, isn’t it?” Don, the ultimate Blackhawk homer, replied, “Lots of things are penalties in the NHL that get overlooked,” noting it didn’t affect the play. Even Neal seemed to have a slight smile on his ugly mug as he rested on Brent Seabrook’s lap. Brent’s countenance seemed to say, “Shaw is just plain nuts,” while he pretended not to notice the Predator’s humiliated winger.

Mischievous seems to be the perfect word to describe #65. If you hung out with Andrew as a kid, no doubt you found yourself in “time out” on occasion. Watching Shaw in the Blues and Predator contests made me realize that he serves a vital role on the Hawks – taking out the opposition’s garbage. Chicken Hawk’s escapades last week started with the opening faceoff against the Blues. Nozzle extraordinaire, Steve Ott, and Shaw exchanged pleasantries before the puck was even dropped. Nothing like a little head butt before the opening faceoff, eh? Later, after Ott tried to send Shaw to the moon on what may have been a legal hit, fellow meatball Danny Carcillo tried to decapitate Ott with a cross check to the head. Now that’s hockey!

Normally, I’m quite opposed to this type of vigilante justice. But targeting a chronic burr under the saddle like Otter, from the get-go, sort of sent a message to the behaviorally challenged Blues. I get it, it can be debated that players like Ott, Backes, Lapierre or Reaves actually ever get that message. However, make no doubt about it, Shaw and Carcillo sort of set the tone early on in the Blues game. You want to play Rockem-Sockem Robots, we’ll oblige you. Many of the more sagacious fans said that Shaw and Carcillo should not be dragged down to a player like Ott’s level – a rise above the refuse mind set. Sometimes though, as was so well pointed out when Ralphie pounded Farkus in the movie A Christmas Story, sooner or later, you have to face up to the town bully. Make no mistake about it, that’s why Maggie’s #3 is hanging in the rafters.

 Lindbloom_2014Dec09_midOtt and Backes

Actually, outside of the Predator game when Bickell/Shaw/Carcillo were a little quiet, this line has been pretty effective. With the emergence of Smith/Kruger/Nordstrom trio, clearly our Smooth Jazz Line, Coach Q is once again rolling four lines. Shaw and Carcillo are perfect examples of that hackneyed saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” It also appears, based on the eye test alone that 65’s and 13’s truculence is rubbing off on our gentle giant, Bryan Bickell. I always get a kick at the opposition’s tough guys taking runs at Shaw and Carcillo – not so much Bickell. At any rate, kudo’s to this mischievous, strong willed line for sending the Blues a message! On a side note, it is a bit troublesome that Bickell may be considered the brains of The Tinker Bell Line.

By the way, as long as we’re on the subject of knuckleheads, I’ve coined a new term; “Backes Time.” That is when there is less than 5 seconds to go in the game, while down 3 goals, you launch a wild haymaker, hoping it hits somebody. Hopefully it doesn’t land on a ref or throw your shoulder out of socket when it doesn’t land. Once again, Seabrook’s countenance was worth the price of admission; Brent just sort of looked quizzically at the Blues bellicose captain. He appeared to be mumbling, “Dude, you ain’t right.” Fortunately, for the most part, Keith and Seabrook have been right this season. Duncan and Brent pass the puck around in their zone like Rafalski and Lidstrom did for the Wings a few years ago. Congrats to Brian Rafalski for being inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame – certainly a class act.

The Blues game was Antti Raanta’s first start since the Jurassic Period. Early on, he was aided and abetted by two Blues shots that clanged off the posts. Is there a more noticeable sound in a hockey arena than that clanging sound? Raanta performed admirably after a shaky start in the first period, tallying 40 saves vs. the Blues. I must admit, I was a bit nervous when Raanta went out almost to the blue line to thwart a possible breakaway, thank goodness for one of the Blues players going offside. There was a time out immediately following Raanta’s escapade, and I believe Coach Q reminded Antti that there is no one behind him in that situation. Clearly, a hold the wood pile down moment.

Against the Canadiens, Antti gave up three goals, which is 50% more than the Hawks have allowed per game thus far this season. Raanta did keep the Hawks in this game early on, repelling two Montreal breakaways. Gonchar’s goal is probably one he’d like to have back. However, it would haven Helen Keller to stop Gallagher’s stealth wrister or Subban’s bunker bomb. When Subban loaded up for his blast on the power play, it scared me sitting in my lazy boy at home. Can you imagine what it is like to be a player parked in front of the net? Hell, I think even Hjarlmarrson would try to exit, stage left.

After playing two games in three nights, Coach Q called on Scott Darling to man the pipes against the Predators. I had to chuckle when I read Darling’s weakness was his five hole by some observer at secondcityhockey.com. I wonder what they based that observation on. Perhaps the fact you can drive a small car through it? Despite this glaring weakness, Darling held the surprisingly offensive Pred’s to one goal on 33 shots, garnering second star of the night honors. I still think he should be felling trees in the Great Northwest somewhere.

Somebody will have to explain to me how an “elite” NHL goalie, one who can do the splits, make acrobatic saves and possess cat like reflexes, can injure himself in a mosh pit. Forget what it means to the Blackhawks fortunes, Cor-dawg was automatic for me in the two Fantasy Leagues I’m in. Buck up Corey, learn how to hold your liquor or enter the Betty Ford Clinic.

The #1 star of the Predator affair was Baby Hoss. If Toews and Hossa don’t pick it up a notch, this line may soon be called “Saad’s Line.” Number 20 was brilliant in his last three games, starting with picking Ian Coles pocket in the Blues game, eventually setting up Freddy Kruger for his fourth goal of the season. With all the glory and praise, justifiably, going to the Redemption Line, (named after Steeger and Richards whose careers seem to be suddenly resurrected), the Hawks top line had been a bit quiet. The shot attempts were there, the puck was just not cooperating. Perhaps Eddy-O told them they needed to go to the front of the net more if they wanted to get rewarded; against the Pred’s and the Canadiens, this line started cooking with Crisco. Stan, if Saad and his agent will ink the contract for $3.5 mildo – pull the trigger before this kid gets out of hand!

One thing Eddy-O did notice was Brandon Prust’s feet getting tangled up while chasing down a loose puck against Kane. Good luck with that one Brandon. At first I though Kane did trip him, but then Eddy-O who has an incredible eye for the minutiae, pointed out Prust was falling down on his own while trying to race Crazy 88’s. How does Olczyk see that stuff?

One final observation before I tell you the “Tall Man” story. Smith, Kruger and Nordstrom are becoming a thing. Coach Q certainly is not afraid to call their numbers when the Hawks are protecting a third period lead. I really wanted Morin to get a shot alongside Smith and Kruger – but the way that line is playing the chances are slim and none. I believe that’s why Jeremy Morin is finally asking to be traded. I also am a firm believer the Hawks will regret losing Morin eventually. The million dollar question is, with Sharps imminent return, will Carcillo or Nordstrom sit? Another way of putting it, will our fourth line continue to be Smooth Jazz, or Punk Rock?

While it may be curtains for Jeremy Morin, I suspect Chicken Hawk will be around awhile. I recall a time when it was almost curtains for me. My dad was hollering at me for something stupid I did, maybe making my older sister Mary Therese eat grass. Trust me she deserved it. After he hollered at me, he left the room, closing the bedroom door where I was banished to for my malfeasance. When the door shut, I flipped my dad the bird – and almost had a heart attack when he simultaneously reopened it to tell me one more thing. My arm went down like a lightning bolt, although I’m pretty sure he saw “Tall Man” on his descent! Again, I’m lucky to be alive I suppose.

As we all know, none of us were exactly perfect as children. Andrew Shaw was no exception. I read a story about him when his dad was about to read him the riot act one time, (probably of many), in his mischievous youth. His dad told him “Come here,” to which Andrew replied, “F__k Y__.” Andrew recalled his dad chasing him for two blocks before he finally caught him. Shaw said what happened next could probably be construed as child abuse.

Fortunately for Hawk fans, his deserved beating did not take any of the Tinker bell out of him. Obviously, he’s still as mischievous and strong willed as they come. Even in the NHL, Chicken Hawk is still touching people – just ask James Neal.

Other important stuff:

Shaw is really bad at acting – he should have played the guy in mowing the lawn in the “Push it real good” commercial. “Look at me. I’m pushing it real good.”

Do you know anyone who has ever gotten a Lexus for a Christmas present? Me neither.

Kevin Hayes appears to have made the right decision given the Morin situation – hope all you Morin detractors choke on a Carcillo fur ball. It’s so hard to crack the Hawks line up.

Kaner vs. Jackman is unfair.

The Price is Right – at least he was against the Hawks. Damn some of these NHL goalies are magicians. Richards made a great play trying to slip the puck over to Toews on his goal. It would have been an easy save for Price had Richards shot it. Experience can pay dividends now and again.

Wins in 11 out of their last 13?! Not exactly 2013, but it’s a start.

I couldn’t help but think how excited Pat Foley must have gotten when the Hawks and Canadian’s were tied 3-3 in the 3rd. For the next 10 minutes you just know he was watching the clock so he could say, “Tree, tree in the turd with tree turty tree left to play…” I think he missed it though.

Finally, a picture from the Blues vs. Hawks affair:

 Lindbloom_2014Dec09_bot“Take that Seabrook.”

Rich Lindbloom

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