A little playoff musing from Rich Lindbloom.
“Dude, your boy friends wearing teal!” – Sam Fels penned that line in one of his top ten things not to like about the Sharks last season. It’s one of those lines that emit a muffled chuckle in our politically correct world. The color teal was a huge fashion success a few years back, but somehow I don’t think you’d find it in Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s closet. It reminded me of a moment not to long ago when I was picking out the colors for my daughters softball uniform. As I recall, the 3 options on colors when it came to my choice were dark green, yellow or teal. Teal would have been my last choice but on a whim I asked one of the ladies coaching what she thought the girls would like before going with my gut – dark green.
Both ladies I talked to without hesitation said, “Teal!”, as if I was some sort of Neanderthal. My wife and daughter echoed the ladies choice when I got home, quite astonished that I even had to ask for advice. Which leads me to the conclusion; a manly man did not design the Sharks uniform. No doubt Sean and Gus from the sitcom Psyche would have no problem deducing that the Shark sweater was designed by a very gay man in San Francisco. They can slap as many sharks as they want on the sweater, it still reeks of pusillanimity. At least make the Shark look mean! Truly, Mack the Knife has left the building.
Scarlet billows began to spread early in Sunday’s affair. “Gentle” Ben Eager tried to knock everything he saw in teal into the middle of next week. Had he played more than 6 minutes someone would have ended up in the hospital. Rumor had it after the game the Bay City Rollers were asking him if he knew how to roller skate. When questioned afterwards Bennie said, “I just want to pet the soft bunnies.” Playing opposite of Eag’s has to be a lot like yanking out nose hairs – while necessary, it’s just not something that you look forward too. Actually, the other two nozzles that helped make the Sharks life miserable, Madden and Burr-dog, combined with Eags for some very productive shifts. I know I’m not the only one, don’t you just love it when this line scores! Sunday, this line proved to be a lot more than 3 pretty faces. Sometimes I think the best part of Adam’s game is after the whistle blows in our opponents crease. “C’mon, I dare ya; I double dog dare ya to hit me in the face!” Burr-dog’s the name – agitation’s the game.
Versteeg appeared a bit agitated when the Paul Bunyan that chopped his stick in two was not sentenced to two minutes. Can you imagine if that was Thorton, Kane, Crosby or Ovechkin etc.? Somebody would have to do time. The misunderstood Dutchie is tired of being the Rodney Dangerfield of professional hockey. To make matters worse, a few moments later he gets set up by his own teammate, serving time in the slammer for a crime he did not commit. Compounding matters, the entire Hawk bench was telling him to shut up when he tried to straighten the misunderstanding out. “I have feelings you know,” complained the #32 car. I guess this brought out a new meaning to “taking one for the team.” It reminded me of a time I was playing 16” softball and I had a full count on me with runners at 2nd and 3rd, two out. As I took my stance one of the moral supporters from the bench hollered out, “Lindbloom, we’ve got some good hitters coming up – make sure it’s a good one.” That was a real vote of confidence.
Truth of the matter is, if Bolland, Ladd and cry baby continue playing like they have been – the Hawks will fair quite well. Ladd has been skating his butt off, seemingly relishing the opportunities in the tough areas of the ice. Bolland seems to get better with every game – his defensive play taking a lot of bite out of the Shark attack. While this line has often times drawn the top line on the opposition, they can be extremely dangerous themselves. Speed kills, so does brute force…
Dustin Byfuglien continues to significantly impact the outcome of these games. His game winning shot was a highly intelligent play – one you would expect more from a player say of … Joe Thorton’s considerable abilities. Buff could have tried to one time the puck, but was aware he didn’t have to rush it. After stopping the puck, teeing it up, checking for wind direction, he took “dead aim,” as Ben Hogan used to say on the links. Actually club selection could have been the difference in the game. Buff decided to hit his five wood – Thorton tried to hit a 300 plus yd. drive when a long iron (read wrist shot) might have sufficed. It would have looked great it if it went in, but at this point of the game a shot on net, although not as flashy, might better have served the purpose. Credit our alien in the net for making Thorton rush that incredible opportunity.
Actually in my book, Niemi was little more than adequate. (Huet would have stopped Demers shot.) When you stop 50 shots, come see me. Seriously though, the game sort of reminded me of Niemi’s Last Stand, only with a happy ending. The “claw save” on Clowe’s shot was a tad short of miraculous. Our Puck Man absorbed more rubber than a drag strip. Does anyone get the feeling that we’re about to learn a lot more about Finland in the near future? So far I know they produce a good vodka, oddly enough named Finlandia. From 1970 until 1990 they developed an extensive welfare state that collapsed in the 1990’s. Successive governments have changed Finland’s economic system through deregulation, privatization and lowering taxes. Niemi’s sudden thrust into the limelight may not only bring the Cup to its rightful home in Chi-town, he may help right our economic woes. If we have ears to hear! Think about it, if hockey took on a Socialist mindset Huet would be back in the nets because if only given the chance… oh well you know what I mean. President Obama really needs to watch a hockey game.
Marion Hossa continues to be scrutinized by the all seeing eye of Modor. Although averaging just under a point/game in the playoffs, the omniscient Chicago fan is feeling short changed. Do you want to know my take on the matter? Think about the movie, AS GOOD AS IT GETS. At one point Helen Hunt tells Jack Nicholson to back off, get lost and don’t call me anymore. When he continues to pursue her (perhaps realizing that when a woman says no sometimes it means yes), she finally asks him, “Why do you want me.” I guarantee you his reply melted the heart of every woman watching, “Because you make me a better man.” Hossa not only continues to contribute in every intangible category there is – he makes Patrick Sharp a better player! Marion plays hockey like Jerry Sloan used to play basketball. Both possessed that most underrated intangible, the desire to win.
I’m pretty sure an elephant will forget, before the Shark fans, when it comes to Brian “abandon ship” Campbell. Their boos every time Brian touches the puck are getting annoying. Let it go! Breathe! Turn the other cheek. How can you boo a player who comes back about 3 weeks early from a severe injury? How about a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T? I thought #51, the Phantom, had an outstanding game yesterday. He was a puck moving machine, weaving in and out of the shark infested waters. For the most part, the fans in Chicago have stopped booing Brian, realizing he’ll never be a Sopel, finally appreciating him for what he brings to the table.
While on the subject of defensemen, Duncan made what I thought was one of the key plays of the game when he got caught in a moment of indecision by the shark blue line. (Think the Clash’s song, SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO.) By the time he decided not to go after a dangling puck, Joe Thorton scooped it up and headed for pay dirt. From a standing start Keith almost caught up with Jumbo Joe, not giving him the time needed to figure out the enigma between Chicago’s pipes. Lady Luck was certainly on our side on that play, but so was an indomitable effort by our possible Norris trophy candidate. By the way, when Hjarlmarrson nailed Pavelski – well there’s just no other ay to put this – Joey fall down, go boom.
The refereeing was one, or a combination of the following adjectives; obtuse or incongruous. Seriously, 5-0 in favor of the home team? Did Mack the Knife and his associates have a word with Watson and Devorski before the game? I’m beginning to think Brad Watson is a very bad man. Trust me; despite my cries of “kill the ref,” I try to have an open mind when it comes to the zebra’s. However, when Watson said Versteeg “looked guilty” at the end of the game, he crossed the line. My mom will probably kill me for saying this but she once told me that her way of measuring out punishment for our miscreant ways was to whack which ever one of the 9 of us were closest. “If you weren’t the guilty party in that instance, no doubt you deserved it for the time you got away.” It paid to be fast in the Lindbloom household!
I know I’m getting long winded, but I have to touch on one more subject. As Ricky Ricardo would say to Lucy, “Lucy, let me splain something to you.” The announcers, (I thought Milbury was going to cry after the game) and even some of our beloved sports writers were quick to justifiably sing Niemi’s praises. However, need I remind you we had 40 vs. the Sharks 45 shots on goal, with no power plays! Nabokov was every bit as good as Antii, at least twice the beneficiary of the Hawks hitting the post. While Niemi contributed in a big way, it was clearly a team win. For someone to suggest that the Sharks dominated us, well they need to come up with another esplaination. I liked RoseLee’s post game observation; “That was a great one to watch once the clock ran out.”
She also advised me to keep doing lucky things – it’s probably why my daughter’s uniform is dark green this year! Hang seven.
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