“Out of difficulties grow miracles.” – Jean de la Bruyere
By Rich Lindbloom
Miracling is a term associated with Dead Heads who would follow the band from city to city, hoping to score a ticket. I never did quite get it until I saw my first Grateful Dead show on 7/8/1995. The show they performed the next night would be the last gig they ever played together. According to Dead Heads I talked to about the show, they said it was a bit of a disappointment. Jerry Garcia was struggling with health issues at the time and was apparently not on the top of his game. Much like our Blackhawks, he was “Going down the road feeling bad, bad luck is all I’ve ever had…” (After the Lightning’s victories in Game’s Two and Three, it would appear the Hawks will need a miracle to overcome the suddenly unbeatable Bolts.)
Good thing I was not a Dead connoisseur because the sound I heard in Soldiers Field that warm Saturday night was “music to my ears.” The Dead’s sound system made you feel like you were listening to a great stereo in your living room. I told the friend I was with, and who sat with me at an REM concert in the tenth row about two months earlier, “These guys sound better than REM.” It was then that a Dead Head tapped me on the shoulder and said, “No shit man.” I think it might have been Sam Fels.
What really hooked me on the Dead though was last year when I bought a new car that had Sirius radio. I stumbled across the 24 hour Grateful Dead channel, and found myself mesmerized by Garcia’s inimitable, ethereal voyages when he played leads. On so many of these leads, you feel like you’re riding a perfect wave. And I’m pretty sure he made most of it up as he went along! As many of you know, the Dead are playing from July 3rd through July 5th at Soldiers Field. My first thought was, who could possibly take Garcia’s spot. There is only one Jerry Bear. When I heard Trey Anastasio from Phish was playing with the Dead I thought, “They just might pull it off.”
I was talking to a friend who has great musical taste about the concert recently. (great taste = he likes what I like) His views mirrored how so many people view the Dead; “I don’t get it.” I told him once you get hooked on Garcia’s guitar leads, you just can’t get enough. You either like him or switch the channel. That’s not to say the Dead are perfect, even Garcia once said “We bat about .300.” But when they’re right…
I can’t help but draw comparisons between Jerry Garcia and Corey Crawford – you either like Corey or you say anyone could play goalie on the Hawks. The boys at Hockeenight posted the following comment from a well-meaning Hawk fan; “How hard is it to put Darling in!!!!!!!! Crawford sucks, he has one good game and everyone thinks he’s great.” Obviously, this fan “doesn’t get it,” when it comes to Cor-dawgs considerable contributions to the Hawks success. Simply put, this Hawk team without Crawford, would be tantamount to the Grateful Dead without Garcia. The team could play on, but there would be a pretty big hole in our Stanley Cup aspirations.
When Eddie Olczyk threw Crow under the bus after Ryan Callahan’s prodigious blast from just outside the faceoff dot, I could only shake my head. “Crawford went down to early on that shot,” was followed up by Edzo saying, “He should have come out and challenged Callahan more.” That clap bomb was a heat seeking missile that “dinged” off the cross bar at over 100 mph. If you look at the replay, Crow is outside the paint and Callahan has a very small hole to shoot at. I’m somewhat surprised Eddy didn’t throw in the old “how to beat Crawford” standard and say, “they’re targeting his glove hand.”
I know Olczyk knows a lot about the game; but listening to him pick apart Crow’s technique on handling that shot was similar to listening to someone atop the Tower of Babel trying to give directions. Edzo, sometimes the snipers in the NHL just beat you. What’s wrong with giving them a little credit? I wonder what the goalies in the league think when an announcer says, “I bet ____ wished he had that one back.” I’d love to see some of the savant announcers put the pads on and have a player like Stamkos or Kane fire away at them from the face off dot. It just might give them a new found appreciation for the difficulty of making that save. I say ring the bell on Callahan’s blast.
It certainly was a blast watching the Hawks swarm around the Tampa Bay zone for 3/4th’s of the first period. It easily could have been a 3-1 game, (or 3-0 game if Crawford didn’t suck), heading into the second period. I know Toews was held off the scoreboard, but I can’t ever recall watching him put the nose to the grind stone like he did in Game Three. It was a thing of beauty the whole night long. Marian Hossa had one of his classic, “I’m Marian Hossa and you’re not,” games. Watching the puck roll by the post when he shot, after being tripped, was excruciatingly painful. His move in the first period where he put the puck between Stralman’s legs and went around him like a turnstile was Harlem Globetrotter-ish. “Curly” Hossa!
Brandon Saad also had a sterling evening with a tic tac toe goal, six shots and three hits. Baby Hoss was sent to the box, moments after a spurious call on Brian Bickell, when he put his hand on Bishops face mask. Bishop did his best Mike Smith imitation, appearing to lay unconscious on the ice for several “frightening” moments. Hell, even a soccer ref would have told him to get up and play on. Don’t get me wrong, I truly admire Bishop playing through whatever injury it is he is nursing. However he needed to be assessed two minutes for embellishing on that particular play. Oddly, it didn’t seem that any concussion protocol was followed after that devastating blow blow to the helmet. Although, I’m pretty sure concussion protocol at this point in the playoffs is “Rub some dirt on it.”
Of course that penalty led to a minute and a half of 5 on 3 power play time for the Bolts. How the Hawks emerged unscathed on that gift to Tampa Bay, will remain the Ninth Wonder of the World. I’m not sure Corey faced any shots against the potent Lightning power play. The crowd was on their feet applauding the Hawk penalty killing efforts led by Marcus Kruger, supplemented by some assiduous work by Hjalmarsson and Keith. When the Hawks finally killed off both penalties I wanted to scream out “Cheaters proof.” On a side note, it seemed like a very boisterous crowd at the United Center throughout the evening. Kudo’s to the seventh man, Chicago fans.
Bryan Bickell appeared to be in Commander Cody Land, seemingly lost in the d-zone, the center ice zone and the ozone. He certainly wasn’t right. This sort of messed the lines up, with Sharp and Vermette being the notable casualties of Q’s line shuffling. Vermette, Shaw, Desjardins, Kruger, Bickell and Teravainen all played under 12 minutes. What ever happened to rolling four lines?
With the score knotted at 2-2 with under 4 minutes to play, Victor Hedman joined the rush, receiving a nice pass from Callahan who dug the puck free along the center ice boards. Sam Fels recently noted that Hedman skates so smoothly, it doesn’t look like he’s going fast. Hedman appeared to be on cruise control as he waltzed into the Hawks zone. It appeared either Sharp or Cumiskey could have impeded Cedric Paquette’s path to the puck. Take a second off in the NHL and really bad things happen. A seemingly benign play turned into a tap in for the game winner. Unlike Hossa and Teuvo who both missed wide open nets in the first period, Cedric deposited the mail in the box. For some inexplicable reason, Crow never went down in the butterfly when the pass left Hedman’s stick.
The whole play seemed like a mental lapse by a majority of the Hawks on the ice. It was as if Hedman cast a spell on them; then again they just might have been tired. I’m not sure if it’s true, but someone noted Cumiskey was on the ice for a minute and a half at that point.
One thing I will agree with Olczyk on, you would be hard pressed to find a better player on either team in this series than Victor Hedman. He’s been a defensive stalwart and quite obnoxious offensively if you’re a Hawk fan.
But you want to know what is really obnoxious? “The Triplet Line” is the worst name for a line in the history of hockey. What the hell, did their moms name their line? Are they sucking on binky’s or is that a mouth piece? While they are young, Johnson is 24, Palat is 24 and Kucherov will be 22 in 8 days. Not exactly still in their diapers. But boy, don’t all the announcers love to say “Triplet Line.” Supposedly the named was “birthed” when Tampa Bay coach John Cooper stated, “There so in synch, their like triplets.” I think Cooper has watched the movie Slapshot one too many times.
Nikita Kucherov would fit in right alongside The Hanson Brothers, the original Triplets.
If someone doesn’t straighten that punk Kucherov out tonight I think I’ll quit watching the Hawks. I understand the best way to get even with the nozzle for blatantly slew footing Johnny Oduya is to win the game. However, if you let a blatant cheap shot like that go unpunished, you’ve lost the game within the game already. I’m somewhat startled that the Department of Player Safety has not at least mentioned the foul play. They suspend players in the regular season for that type of hockey (?) play.
I noted this once before in a piece, but it bears repeating. I was talking to a dad at a rink one day when he told me a story about his daughter. His daughter was playing in a boy’s league and was cheap-shotted by one of the best players on the other team. The two squared off for a face off later in the game, and the young lady wickedly slashed the culprit. She was sent to the box of course, and after the game her dad asked her why she did it. Her reply sort of touched on an unwritten rule in the game of hockey. “He hurt me, so I hurt him.” In hockey, there are times when two wrongs do make a right. Someone on the Hawks needs to go after Kucherov tonight.
Personally, I think well placed slashes on the wrist area until his radius or ulna, or both, are snapped in two would be a good start.
Kucherov reminds me of a player who was playing against my friend’s team at the Southwest Ice Arena one day. The other team had a Terry Ruskowski wanna be who continually took indecent liberties with the Thick Brick team I was exhorting on. Thick Brick had two huge Irish brothers playing defense for them, about 6’3″ and close to 240#’s. One of them finally had enough of the knuckleheads antics and dropped the gloves with him. He picked the grinder up, body slammed him to the ice and smacked him a couple times for good measure. It was a classic example of hockey behavior modification. In this instance, it worked.
Hopefully, the Hawks will continue to work like they did in Game Three. We just didn’t seem to have a lot of puck luck in that game. Fifth Feather at TheCommittedIndian blog site put it best;
“The Blackhawks dropped Game 3 to a goalie that looked more like Jean Claude Van Damme in the net than a NHL goalie. The Hawks missed two completely wide open cages in the first period. Ben Bishop could barely move side to side without dropping to one knee and yet the Hawks couldn’t scratch more than two pucks past him even though they threw 38 shots on net and an ungodly amount that went wide or were blocked.
Meanwhile, the Hawks killed off a 5-on-3, Corey Crawford stopped two breakaways and they let up for 35 seconds to find two pucks behind them.
Hockey is the absolute worst.”
Will it take a miracle to defeat the hockey world’s new poster child? Bob Weir actually had some sound advice for those struck by adversity in their lives in the Dead’s song Truckin’, “Hang it up, and see what tomorrow brings.”
Keep truckin’ Blackhawks