Never Let Go!
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb – and a brief summary of the chaotic victory over the Dallas Stars
By Rich Lindbloom
The above photo is a picture of our two Newfie’s laying claim to the same toy. Digit, the beast on the right, normally ends up losing these games of tug-of-war. George outweighs him by about 30#’s and is 100% Alpha. (Think Andrew Shaw vs. John Scott) The tussle usually begins after their walk, with Digit picking up the stuffed animal and sticking it in George’s face. The ensuing struggle does bear a striking resemblance to two bulls in a China shop.
While quite amused watching the two goof balls battle over the same toy, (there are plenty of other toys, but they always want the one the other has), I keep a wary eye on things that are breakable in the living room. They both tend to back up, while tugging, with little regard for what’s behind them. I’ve come to admire their 100% focus. Besides, I’ve never really liked the picture on our flat screen in that room, although knocking the Christmas tree over would have landed both in the doghouse.
This daily game reminds me a bit of the Hawks vs Stars last night. Based on our records and recent successes, I’d have to say the Hawks would be George and the Stars would be Digit if each hound was to represent a team. While there is plenty of competition, the Blackhawks are clearly one of the Alpha dog teams in the NHL presently. The problem is, there is always some young puppy nipping at your heels. Like the persistence of Digit above, the underdog just won’t go away. Despite a doggedly determined effort from the Stars, the Hawks once again walked away with the stuffed toy Sunday night.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new dog on the porch. Teuvo Teravainen received the long awaited call up from the Big R, skating 10:50 against the Dallas squad. 43,776 eyes intently watched his every move, much like the runners that joined Forrest Gump on his cross country jogs. My daughter and I got to the United Center in time to watch warm ups up close. For the most part, my gaze was directed at the 5’11”, 169 pound center from Helsinki, Finland. It’s hard enough spelling his name, let alone putting all the dots above the A’s in it.
It’s rather apparent that he can dangle with the best of them. He’s not exactly Patrick Kane, but I’m thinking he would fare a hell of a lot better than Bollig did in that stick handling drill that Kane mesmerized us with last year. Secondly, #86 has a very quick release – the puck seems to jump off his stick. Thirdly, he appears to be a devilish skater.
Over the course of some 50 years of watching the warriors who don the Indian head, four rookies stand out in my mind. The type of rookie who brings you to the edge of your seat in anticipation; the rookie who has you mumbling, “I like that guy.” Savard, Toews, Kane and Magnuson all stood out the first time I observed them. At first glance, Maggy might seem a bit out of place in this group. Trust me though, with those flowing red locks, and his take no prisoners mind set, #3 was quite noticeable. I never tired of seeing Maggy take to the ice and skate as fast as he could during warm ups.
In the game last night, Teuvo sort of blended in with the scenery, not necessarily a bad thing; then again we Blackhawk fans are a spoiled lot, are we not? What I do recognize in the 20 year old, is a type of ice awareness that Kaner possesses. The thinking 5 moves ahead in chess scenario. Also, he appears to play with a bit more aggressiveness than your typical prima donna. Let me try to explain this observation in terms that are a bit more understandable.
Crescent Lake in the state of Washington is one of the prettiest places on God’s green earth. It is a spectacular, glacier fed lake, 12 miles long that runs along Highway 101. Lake Crescent Lodge has this long dock that you can sit on, and take in the scenery while having a cocktail or two.
Or, if you’re really nuts, jump off the end of it. Every year we’ve gone there, (something like 16 out of the last 20 summers), I’m faced with the dilemma of jumping in with the kids and my wife. “C’mon dad, don’t be a chicken!” and similar taunts intended to coax me into the coldest water I’ve ever been in, are pretty much non-stop. I did jump in one time, and so far that is enough! Major shrinkage of my vital organ occurs instantaneously, while you concomitantly gasp for air. I swam for the ladder faster than Michael Phelps ever did in the 100 meter free style. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating for a second or two.
Staring at the water, debating on jumping in every year, reminds me of Kaner’s attempts at body checks. They always seem to have a, “Do I really want to do this?” quality about them. I guess I’d categorize them as polite hits. All that to say, I was quite surprised at a hit Teuvo put on a Dallas defenseman in the first period. Very Shawsian – our resident team mutt!
Actually, although the line of Bickell, Kruger and Shaw did not get on the scoreboard, I thought they played very aggressively. Although they all ended up on the minus side of the ledger in this game, they recorded 8 shots on goal between the three of them. Let’s just say they wanted that toy badly on Sunday. Bickell threw a couple of thunderous checks himself. he was flying around the ice so fast, he wiped out twice on one shift! No spill, no thrill “as the saying goes.
Rundblad (12:33 ice time, +2) and Rozsival (13:07 ice time, +1), also played a solid game. This kept Duncan Keith’s minutes down to just over 22 minutes of ice time. Is it just me, or does it seem like Rundblad is gaining a lot more confidence?
The Sharp/Richards/Kane line combined for 12 shots on goal, with the handsome one accounting for 6 of those. They were for the most part lined up against the Garbutt/Eakin/Roussel line. Normally it seems Coach Q puts our third line against those nozzles. It appeared from my perch in Section 320 that Dallas’s grinder line was struggling a bit against our second line. In all fairness, a lot of lines have a hard time containing 10/91/88, eh?
I always expect Antoine Roussel to start some crap, just to let everyone know he’s out there. I don’t know if it was because he was out of breath trying to stop Kane’s line or he’s turning a new leaf, but the Dallas pestilence was rather well behaved on Sunday. That disappointed me, because watching players like Shaw and Roussel fight for that toy is always a game within the game. Is it possible that Antoine made a New Year’s resolution to limit his skulduggery? Nah, I didn’t think so either – a leopard can’t change it spots.
I do know one thing, watching Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin barrel down the pipe on a two on one is not a good thing. Clearly it’s a “Danger Will Robinson, aliens approaching” moment. With the aforementioned “Nozzle Line,” Spezza, Hemsky along with Benn, Seguin, Fiddler and Klinkberg, this Star’s team could be a lot to handle come playoff time.
There achilles heel could be there goaltending, although when Lehtonen is on he can slam the door. Unfortunately for Lehtonen, he let an alleged soft goal to Brad Richards from a near impossible angle with about three minutes to go in the entertaining contest that knotted the game at 4. His moniker, “Let-one-in” appeared to be the truth on that goal.
However, Lehtonen had just turned aside a booming clap bomb off the stick of Big Hoss. It appeared the shot caused him to lose his balance a bit, as he struggled to get to his right post. In a post game interview, Richards said, “I’d like to say I saw a tiny opening and lasered the shot like a brain surgeon, but I saw Lehtonen was struggling to get to the post.” Hawk fans, in addition to possessing a lot of skill, Brad Richards is a very smart hockey player. Not just on that play, but watch the little things he does throughout the game. He’s a Handzuz on steroids.
It appears for the moment that Danny Carcillo is the odd man out with Teuvo and Nordstrom being recalled. Carcillo’s ice time has been dwindling lately, probably deservedly so. Scott Powers had a great interview with the bellicose Hawk winger recently. It sort of reinforced the love/hate relationship many Hawk fans have towards Danny Boy.
In the interview, Carcillo admitted he hasn’t been playing well lately. He could have easily complained about his diminishing ice time, but instead pointed the finger firmly at himself. Clearly, with the stable of young talent the Hawks have in Rockford, Carcillo is constantly hears the footsteps behind him. He also said that throughout the brutal 82 game NHL schedule, it’s hard to bring the 110% intensity that a player such as he is required to his spot in the line up. If Coach Q does insert him into the lineup soon, expect a re-focused Carbomb. Say what you will about Carcillo, but he is definitely a ‘tug-of-war , that’s my toy,’ type player.
All in all, although the Dallas contest would never be described as a virtuoso performance, it was a highly entertaining game. Of course the major observation was that Cor-dawg has not been himself since the mosh pit injury. To that I say one word, “Poppycock!” While listening to the post game show on the way home, I was disappointed that Judd Sirott didn’t get to the callers observations until we pulled into the driveway. He aired the interview with Coach Q and Brad Richards which took away from the sagacious observations of over-served fans.
I’m sure more than one fan would have “demanded” that it is time to trade Crawford and go with Raanta and Darling; now!” That sound you hear is me banging my head against the wall. From my vantage point, it doesn’t appear that Crow is showing any signs of the injury – he’s just been on the wrong side of Lady Luck, the goalies best ally. Please Stan Bowman, don’t trade Corey yet!
In closing, I was able to attend the game with one of my favorite hockey buds, my daughter Taylor. Despite sitting behind three fans who wore huge stocking caps with large tassles on top, (please take those damn hats off – they block out huge portions of the ice), we had a highly enjoyable, nail biting time. Before the game we watched warm ups by the glass. As we headed to our seats in the boonies, Taylor told me, “Andrew Shaw made eye contact with me.” Ten years of home schooling down the drain!
Other important stuff:
What is with the highly annoying “Flying V” excessive ice cleaning formation? Bring back the ice crew in the original uniforms and bring back Sarah Kustok.
Although I normally agree with anything Fork Lift writes at hockeenight.com. However, I’m beginning to wander if the great blog site has communistic leanings after Fork’s vilification of Lee Greenwood, and his singing of “I’m proud to be an American.” Let’s just say, if he was still alive, McCarthy might be investigating Hockeenight.
During the pregame warm-ups, I noticed a new twist. The goalie who is not the subject of target practice, practices passing the puck back and forth with another player. Cor-dawgs ill-advised pass to Eakin may just have been an attempt to put this new skill to the test in Overtime. You have to admit, it was a perfect pass.
I was talking to a friend about the winter classic. We recalled how we would come home from school, play hockey down at Oak Hill Park until dinner time, and then go back to the park and paly under the one lamp post that dimly lit the rink. He said then about 9 o’clock we head home to do our homework. I said “Bob, you had me until the going home to do our homework.”
What good the towel do over Versteeg’s hand when they carted him off after the injury?
Caught on the Kiss Cam were the octogenarians, RoseLee and Earl, on Sunday. As Jimmy Stewart noted in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it was a kiss that would put hair back on your head!
I always love walking into the United Center in freezing weather – it’s the way it should be.
It’s our toy Blackhawks – don’t let go!