You know it’s the playoffs when the Tribune’s Dumbass-In-Chief, David Haugh, stops fretting about Kris Bryant long enough to give we mere mortals the benefit of his wisdom. Yesterday, he pinched off a real steamer about the “Goalie Controversy” ahead of Game 2. Needless to say, it’s down to his usual level of gibberish but fear not, intrepid reader, I’ve gone behind the paywall so you don’t have to.
Hello and welcome to Narrative Heaven. Last night had a bit of everything, didn’t it? A first period meltdown, Roszival and Shaw being terrible, the goalie getting pulled and replaced by the “local” boy, the comeback, the fourth year in a row we go to overtime in the Hawks’ Game 1, action, drama, redemption, MOAR OVERTIME and finally Victory and a win on the road that starts this series off the Flahavans’ Way. In addition, I was kept up until 6am by Playoff hockey.. oh, how I’ve missed that.
Let’s get into this, shall we?
Those of you who were around this site last year may recall that, rather than shaving off my beard and regrowing it, I instead chose to brew a beer during the playoffs with the eventual aim of using it to toast victory. The beer turned out just fine but, sadly, was imbibed a little sooner than planned. Oh well.
“To Piss On One’s Chips” is defined thus by Urban Dictionary:
“…to really mess something up for yourself (rather than for someone else) with an unnecessary and/or stupid act….The origin of the expression is from the scenario in the UK of a guy buying some takeaway chips (french fries for any US readers) after an evening’s drinking.
Finding that he then needs a piss on the way home, the inebriated guy finds a quiet spot somewhere then and puts his chips on the ground nearby while he relieves himself. In his drunken state he then accidentally pisses on his chips, thus depriving himself of his meal through his own carelessness and stupidity”.
A better definition would be the highlights of last night’s game, with special attention paid to Michal Roszival.
It gets really grim when the Blackhawks have a day off after a particularly demoralising defeat. As a fanbase we take to social media and comment threads en masse in order to tear our hair and each others throats out. Considering that this specific defeat is the third really bad one in the last four games, the angst levels have been redlining. That’s not to say this is without good reason: losing three out of four is never a Good Thing, but losing them to non-playoff teams in abject fashion makes it far worse. It isn’t even so much the lowly status of the Stars, Flyers and Beej that stings, it’s the patheric capitulation by the Hawks in those losses (and you can include the win over the Canes in that, too: the Hawks did their level best to fuck that up as well). just four games ago we were coming off a successful trip to New York talking about a run at the Division. Now the Hawks are (at least temporarily) in the Wild Card mix and we’re looking anxiously over our shoulders at Winnipeg.
The boys take on the last week of Blackhawks action and discuss Q’s roster usage, the effectiveness of Brad Richards, and what’s going on with the rest of the playoff picture on the Jocelyn Lemieux episode. Listen after the jump.
This effing Hockey Team.. right after I bigged them up in relation to the Central (and by default, Western) title race, on the back of a shutout of the Rags, the Hawks go and #Cube one up against the out-of-it-even-if-they-don’t-believe-it-themselves Stars. Guess those are the breaks. What made it doubly annoying was the Wings making it three straight losses (albeit with loserpoints involved) for the Blues. Boy, St Louis must be looking forward to a playoff series against Minnesota the way one looks forward to a proctological examination. Anyway, stuff:
OK, that one felt pretty good, despite it not being a “classic” but rather a tight, disciplined effort from both sides, backed up by excellent goaltending. Could have gone either way but Brad Richards popped up late in the 3rd and clearly greatly enjoyed his goal against the team that scratched him in the playoffs ahead of buying him out last offseason (although I’m sure he enjoys cashing the checks they’ll be writing him till the sun goes supernova more), Scott Darling earned his first NHL shutout and the Hawks leave the Empire State with four points from two games against two of the East’s best.
That was a short recap, hey? Let’s talk more stuff, specifically how the rest of this season looks..
Matt Carey Cam Barker Jerome Dupont episode. In the first cast since Pat Kane’s collarbone become more than one piece the guys discuss the implications of the injury, the replacements acquired to help soften the blow and of course there’s plenty of Teuvo talk after his big game against the Rangers. We do wonder if Patrick Sharp will ever emerge from urinal trough he’s been stuck in for the better part of two months however.
Audio after the jump.
That one was annoying. Granted, the Rangers are one of the top teams out East but last night felt like a squandered opportunity to close in on the floundering Predators and the stuttering Blues, not to mention putting a little distance between the Hawks and the Wild, who are riding Devan Dubnyk right back into the postseason picture. If there was going to be a bounce from the new acquisitions, it was going to be here.
On the Bob Probert episode we chat with Sirius Chicago Blackhawks correspondent Al Cimaglia about the Hawks’ recent slide. We try and understand the roster construction, where blame should be placed, and what can be done to get the Blackhawks back to being a perennial powerhouse. Jim’s computer dies.
It’s the Kris Versteeg episode of Cheer The Podcast. The guys discuss the past week of Hawks games, whether or not they have enough depth to compete in the Western Conference, and the moves that have already been made by Nashville.
We all wanted Hossa to be a hero. He didn’t need to score the winning goal against Vancouver. He sent the game to overtime. That was enough. We hailed him for it.
Then, early in OT, Sedin offered a silent objective rebuttal to homophobes and ingrates. The Hawks lost. Hossa got a loser point and a fine harangue. We’ll call him a fucking hero.
All around the league losses are rotting on the ice. Points left behind. Some days we anoint heroes. Other days we damn them all. Who is just a loser? Who is a fucking hero.
We decide, based on nothing. Hossa is a fucking hero. Hossa still lost. So did the whole team. They all lost.
Maybe you claim Hossa as a hero because you need something beautiful to cling to in the wee hours. Maybe you claim Hossa–especially in the aftermath of embarrassing defeat–because simply accepting that even the best teams skid sucks the meaning away. I know I do.
No matter what your reason, it is selfish. It means nothing. The Hawks still lost. They still left two points rotting on the ice. But he’s a fucking hero.
And now what? After the Canucks game, Teuvo earned a ticket to Somewhere in Illinois that is Not Chicago. LIke I said in our Round Table, even the Pope admits he can’t explain how his supposedly loving God permits the suffering of innocents. Where does that leave Hawks fans, drenched as we are in pride and avarice? It leaves us with our Golden Boy clipping coupons for the Olive Garden.
Which begs the question: do we try and force meaning into this game tonight? We can hue and cry but we cannot affect the front office. We can contort a February skid into a narrative of challenge and grit. We can write off losses to a bored team that maybe, just maybe, isn’t placing hockey at the top of its daily To-Do list.
Whatever path you choose, know that it is meaningless. The season will grind on, wins and losses accumulating whether we swear blind allegiance or boycott, the end result of countless events too obscure to measure. We are powerless to affect change.
So I choose to rage against the heavens. I don’t want a fucking hero. I want a team. I want Carcillo and Shaw off my team. I want Teuvo back from Nebraska or wherever the fuck they sent him. I want whatever happened one spring evening at the penalty box door in Detroit two years ago. I will not be happy until this team’s name rings from the throats of choirs raised in triumphant measure.
You keep your fucking heroes. I want a fucking team.
The Blackhawks have been reeling for a few weeks and we haven’t seen their best hockey since before Christmas. One of the prevailing excuses for why that is has been that this is the mid-season doldrums. Maybe the Hawks have been bored. They know they’re almost guaranteed a playoff spot if they play mediocre hockey until the end of the season. But something about that seemed like too easy of an out for a team that’s struggled to score goals lately.
Today, we had ample opportunity for some evidence for that theory. A rivalry matinee game with a STL team that has been pummeling opponents lately, all coming after an OT win on Friday night. How would the Blackhawks play?
Well, they played well enough to beat the Blues on the road. A disgusting one-timer from Brandon Saad to Marian Hossa in the third period put the Hawks in the lead for good after blowing two leads throughout the game.
At moments, they looked like a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. At others, they looked like the pedestrian team that gets manhandled by Minnesota. The good news is that those moments were fleeting and the mistakes the Hawks made were mostly because the Blues are a damn good team. They force their opponents to make mistakes and Chicago showed enough resilience and effort to overcome them.
We’re podcasting later, so let’s get a quick breakdown… More >
Now Rise, Chicago
We tithed to them when poor
We tithed to them when weak
We tithed to them in honor’s name
To lift up the arctic’s meek.
Gen’rous host, a role we played
By the Lake or River’s shore,
Bound for glory we did know
Three games we could afford.
Without a thanks they took them
And turned upon us swift.
No honor have the ‘Peggers
Who spurn such gracious gifts.
The time has gone for charity.
The time has gone for grace.
The time has come to show them
Their proper lowly place.
Now Rise Chicago, cast aside
Your kind and gentle heart.
Unsheathe your sword and bellow
Like the God of War thou art.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until the light bleeds red.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until their dreams are dead.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 21 (2.1.15) – We wrap up the California trip, bring on our first guest, ESPN.com’s Corey Pronman, to discuss the Adam Clendening-Gustav Forsling deal and the Blackhawks’ prospect pipeline, and we talk about the second half of the lengthy Hawks’ roadie.
Some have suggested that, when examined in the cold hard light of arithmetic, Patrick Kane is nothing special. If you look at how he affects his linemates’ possession metrics, he is revealed for what he truly is: a scion of the eye test. Patrick Kane shines in the mind’s eye, his exploits better suited for hockey’s chansons de geste than for the slogging accumulation of shot attempts at the commodified game’s industrial heart.
Last night, in the second period, Patrick Kane exposed the limit of this kind of thinking. He’s done this before – a certain playoff hat-trick comes to mind – but last night’s coup de grace was more poignant for its utter banality. Three points is three points, even for two teams firmly assured of playoff berths, but the contest lacked any utilitarian drama. What interest attended the game came only from larger metaphysical questions. Not that we’re supposed to care about these things anymore. Just rack up the points, shift-by-shift and possession-by-possession. Until, that is, Patrick Kane receives a pass from Patrick Sharp and cracks the game open in an instant.
There is no point describing the interval, reducing the moment to a set of actions that anyone, reading them after the fact, could convince themselves lay within their grasp. They do not. Because Patrick Kane is beautiful.
He is not pretty. He is not a physical presence. He is an aesthetic moment on the ice. And Anaheim possesses no counter.
That was the answer to Anaheim’s pre-game pondering. Can they compete against the league’s elite? The Blackhawks are not pretenders. This core has won the Cup twice, in campaigns demanding a tithe from every account, tangible and intangible. Just last year they skated within one bad bounce of returning to the Final in a series that promptly etched itself in folklore.
And what of the metrics for that? Who cares. They are legend. They are beautiful.
And the Ducks? After last night, a certain thought must be gaining volume. They are losers.
The smart take is patience. The smart attitude is to understand one January game in the context of an eighty-two game campaign, exhale slowly, and place both Wednesday’s loss and tonight’s affair in perspective. This isn’t the Premier League. What matters is making it to the post-season and winning sixteen games. It doesn’t matter if you win sixteen in a row, start as a wild card, or win in some ungodly L.A.-sanctioned combination.
Who cares. I spend my days apart from my wife and son, churning through business, rushing to be back in their arms, worrying about status and accomplishments and money and things, wanting only to bask in their love without a care, all against a barely contained roaring dread that at the end I will know with certainty that I could have made a greater mark on the world if only I had actually studied for the fucking SAT. To get through life with any semblance of happiness, I exercise the smart take. I am patient. I don’t expect perfection.
From my hockey team? Fuck perspective. I don’t want fifty-five solid minutes squandered in the final engagement, a good job good effort handshakes for everyone. I don’t want enough wins.
I want all the wins.
And I feel this need more keenly tonight. Some say we should bask in this golden age of Blackhawk hockey. Cups are now a real possibility every year, rather than a dream aching in the chest. But I do not want to bask.
I can glimpse the twilight in the offing. All is temporary. And just as I clutch my son tightly at night in the knowledge that one day too soon he will spurn my embrace and one day more, but not enough, distant I will be unable to hold him, I cannot simply enjoy this moment. In the near future the glory will lapse. The Hawks will be nothing more than a decent hockey team.
So I want more than a win tonight. I want vengeance. I want to scrub the coppery taste of loss from my mouth. I want Toews to take a moment this evening, look out at the executives and middle managers clinging tightly to a sepia-tinted fiction of Blue Collar America while they CHEER THE ANTHEM and toss a one-liner to Hossa. Then unleash hell.
After all, Ducks are disgusting creatures: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091223/full/news.2009.1159.html
Woof. The Blackhawks blew three leads last night against a struggling Kings squad en route to a 4-3 loss. A controversial Tyler Toffoli goal tied it with under 7 minutes left in the third and a few minutes later Jake Muzzin ripped a shot that deflected past Hawks goalie Corey Crawford to seal the deal.
Chicago got off to a good start, with a blast from David Rundblad getting blocked right onto the tape of Patrick Kane who buried less than two minutes into the game. Jeff Carter returned fire to tie it later in the period on a wrister that Crawford should have had. But the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp buried on the power play to send the visitors to the locker room ahead 2-1.
The only tally of the second was Jeff Carter again and, again, one that Crawford should have stopped.
Andrew Shaw also scored for the Hawks in the third period to make it 3-2. A nifty play from Teuvo Teravainen made that happen.
And so it begins: the Hawks head out on the annual Western swing, a road trip that is overblown in importance (points are points) but nonetheless throws up enough quality of opponent to keep the players interested (until they get bored and inevitably lose to the Jets). It’s a shorter trip this time, only playing the Californians with no jaunts to Arizona or Western Canada before heading back to Central opponents in Minnesota, Winnipeg and St Louis. Last time out the Hawks clocked the Kings and Ducks yet barfed one up to the Yotes before heading to Sochi. The year before saw the first dropped points of the season to the Wild and the Nucks and, of course, a sweep thereafter. 2012? Let’s not go there.
We’re coming off the All-Star Break and gearing up for a swing out West. Since there’s little to write about right now, here’s an article I wrote for the print edition of The Committed Indian a few weeks ago, concerning another NHL gimmick and what might not be a bad idea for its future. As ever, thanks to Sam and the guys for letting me contribute and you can subscribe to the digital version right here. Or just pick it up at the UC on game nights. Do yerselves a favour, innit?)
The Blackhawks made news today by recalling Ice Hogs center Dennis Rasmussen from Rockford ahead of their six game road trip which starts in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The Hawks placed the surprisingly productive winger Kris Versteeg, who has been out since being injured during the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, on LTIR to make room for the 6’3 Swedish forward. The beats indicated last week that a forward would likely be recalled in wake of Dan Carcillo’s six game suspension, which was handed down by the league last Tuesday. Rasmussen has 8 goals and 8 assists in 44 games so far in his first North American season. He signed with the Hawks as a free agent in June.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 20 (1.23.15): Well, we finally talk Teuvo, hate on Tim Erixon, wonder what the hell is wrong with Johnny Oduya, question the use of Andrew Shaw, and discuss whether or not David Rundblad is any good. Listen up:
It always feels good to beat the Penguins, but something about it feels so much better when they’re wearing the sweaters that the franchise wore while they swept the Blackhawks in 92.
Another shootout victory this year has them 6-1 in the skills competition, a far cry from a lot of losses and few wins last season. With that said, the journey to get there was both good and also frustrating.
Before Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews scored and Corey Crawford stopped both Pens shooters, the Blackhawks blew a two-goal lead as snipers Zach Sill and Steve Downie would rally to get Pittsburgh a point. What a shitty sentence to have to type. Those two guys suck.
Really this was a tale of two halves of hockey. Chicago absolutely owned the first period. There were numerous stretches of play (minutes at a time) in the Pens zone but only one goal to show for it – a bomb by David Rundblad after Marian Hossa walked Sidney Crosby at the blue line.
The first part of the second period saw the Blackhawks score on the power play! Hossa put a laser beam inside the far post while Bryan Bickell put on a good screen in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
The wheels fell off then for awhile in the second period. A dogshit, brutal turnover by the WWF jobber tag-team of SHAWZY AND ROZY allowed former Blackhawk Andrew Ebbett to find a wide open Zack Sill for a one-timer. That was Sill’s first goal this year in 32 games. Some folks will point to Sill being Teuvo Teravainen’s man, but in reality, he was providing low support on former Blackhawk superstar Craig Adams because Michal Roszival is terrible.
A short time later another bum-ass turnover by Roszival and poor low-zone coverage from Brad Richards allowed Steve Downie to bang in a rebound and tie it at two. Blech.
We better break this thing down before I start vomiting about Roszival…