“What counts in sports is not victory, but the magnificence of the struggle.” – Joe Paterno
By Rich Lindbloom
Is there a more magnificent struggle in sports than Game Seven in a NHL playoff series? Is the thrill of victory, or the agony of defeat ever more clearly defined?
The intensity, danger and will to survive reminded me of the 1979 movie The Warriors. The Cliff Note’s version of the movie is a gang called The Warriors gets stuck on the wrong side of town and has to pass through a lot of enemy turf to make it back to Coney Island. They have run ins with the Turnbull AC’s, The Orphans, the police, the Baseball Furies, the all-female gang called The Lizzies not sure if they were Thin or not, The Punks, all the while trying to dodge some very pissed off Riffs. As the female DJ who is tracking their progress through the “city streets that aren’t so pretty” notes, “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.” A quick glance at the picture above will give you a good idea of their struggle blending, as they tried to make their way back to safety. I’m pretty sure the dude on the left with the hat and the bat is not looking for a baseball game. I think his name was Vermin’.
Carl Dahlstrom, photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs – April 18, 2015
Roughly half of the following piece first appeared in The Committed Indian program on May 21st. Also included here are quotes and further detail and analysis that didn’t fit into the first-run story.
By Chris Block
As great as the past seven or so years have gone for the Blackhawks, there are causes for concern as to whether or not the organization can sustain this reign of success going beyond yet another cap crunch that awaits Stan Bowman and company this summer.
Patrick Sharp’s days with the organization appear to be nearing an end due to the mammoth Toews and Kane contracts kicking in next season. And Marian Hossa may have only another year or two left in him before he retires. On the blue line, Brent Seabrook has one more year before he’s an unrestricted free agent. When that day comes, Seabrook will be a 31-year year old, 11-year NHL veteran.
Brandon Saad and Teuvo Teravainen are top-six talents who will help smooth that transition. Future Hall of Famers Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are so good the Hawks will always be a threat no matter what.
But what has separated the Blackhawks in their championship runs, as well as the near miss in 2014, is the team’s depth. A third and fourth line that matches or exceeds that of any of their conference and playoff rivals; as well as a top four defense that is as good as it gets in hockey. Whether the fourth guy was Brian Campbell or Johnny Oduya, it didn’t matter. The Hawks are filthy rich in elite defensemen with Keith, Seabrook and Hjalmarsson leading the way.
June 9, 1978
In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains – Paul Simon
By Rich Lindbloom
Something dawned on me as I watched the post-game interviews after Saturday’s thrilling, if not discombobulated, victory over Ducks.
Toews, Kane and Crawford all appeared to be exhausted, almost zombie like as reporters peppered them with questions. Although they won the thrilling overtime game, their countenance and words belied a group of warriors who were physically and mentally exhausted. The core group of this Blackhawk team is playing in their fifth Conference Finals in seven years. The Hawks are well aware of the self-sacrifice it takes to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals – it’s akin to climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. (Keith could probably do it, and Toews would die trying no doubt.) Herculean efforts, battling through pain, taking themselves “to the limit one more time,” is a steep price to pay through one deep Stanley Cup run, let alone five.
By Brad Vandenberk
What does it take to run a marathon? Agility, speed, determination and the heart to want to finish the race. That’s what we have witnessed in this series between the Ducks and Hawks. Game 4 saw another game head past an additional overtime period with tired faces and legs, but still believing that this series is up for grabs. Even though the Hawks gave up a 2 goal lead in 37 seconds, they still found a way to beat Andersen to tie the series at 2. Game five started with the Ducks taking a 3 goal lead only to see the Hawks tie it a 4 late in the third period on the back of Jonathan Toews. Just 45 seconds into the overtime period, Matt Belesky buries a rebound and the Hawks head back to Chicago down 3-2 in the series.
Corey Crawford let in a few quick Duck goals but righted the ship to get his team to overtime. Frederick Andersen let in a multiple softies, which shows he is beatable. The Ducks inserted Tomas Fleischmann into the lineup relieving Emerson Etem off the roster. This gave Coach Bruce Boudreau a different look with his line pairings, and it paid off.
A Rorschach Test
Dale Arden: “Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the earth.”
By Rich Lindbloom
The Rorschach Test, developed by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, involved the complex analysis of ten ink spot images that patients were to look at and record what they saw.
I took one psychology class in college. I remember recognizing in myself many of the personality traits and not being too happy with the results. I quickly suppressed all the phobias, before I became a neurotic mess. If there are any psychologists out there, please let me know what you think of my answers to the 10 cards; 1. Satan, perhaps Corey Perry, 2. a mountain goat or clown, 3. The Joker, 4. a guy riding a motorcycle, 5. The stealth bomber, 6. an aircraft carrier, 7. an upside down girl, 8. Donald Duck with sun glasses, 9. Ostriches, 10. a uterus.
By Jon Fromi
After wresting home ice advantage from the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks gave it right back to their Western Conference Final opponent. Thursday, Frederik Andersen and the Ducks came out and made a pair of goals stand up. Anaheim took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-1 Game 3 victory at the United Center.
First Period-The Hawks came out strong early, with Corey Perry making a sprawling play to prevent a scoring chance by Joakim Nordstrom. Corey Crawford had to make a quick stop at the 2:45 mark when Kyle Cumiskey’s pass was picked off by Jiri Sekac and sent to the net. Ryan Kesler took advantage of a muffed pass attempt by Brent Seabrook late in the fourth minute to make a beeline for Crawford. He couldn’t get the puck settled and the shot was wide.
Perry tripped Johnny Oduya 5:39 into the period to set up the man advantage. Chicago couldn’t convert and Kesler got a shot on goal as the penalty expired.
By Brad Vandenberk
Finally, after waiting 10 days, game one of the Western Conference Final was played at the Honda Center in beautiful Anaheim. The Hawks have been trying to stay in game shape after disposing of the Wild in 4 straight games. There was one more test that stood in their way to reaching the Stanley Cup and it was the Ducks. They came to play this afternoon, but it was the Ducks who took game one with a 4-1 victory. Brad Richards scored the lone goal for the Hawks with 39 seconds left in the second period. That would be all she wrote from there.
Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen were in net for this one and Andersen looked sharp, absolutely robbing Patrick Kane on a wide open net. David Rundblad replaced Michel Rozsival who broke his ankle and will not be able to resume playing until next season. Rundblad was very noticeable but in a bad way, almost solely being responsible for 2 of the Ducks goals.
Labyrinth – A place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys;
Something extremely complex or tortuous in structure, arrangement, or character.
By Rich Lindbloom
The partial definition of the word “labyrinth” above would seem to be an apt description of the NHL Playoffs. Actually, life resembles a labyrinth if you stop to think about it. Sometimes I think my life is more about not falling through the gaping holes looking to swallow me up around every bend, then getting to the finish line. Heck, maybe heaven is the place where we find out we no longer have to worry about stumbling into the traps set along the path of life. Hell, for me at least, would be trying to guide the ball past holes 10 and 11 for eternity. Sort of like Sisyphus trying to get that boulder to the top of the hill, only to see it come tumbling down, again and again.