Monday, January 23, 2012

The Day After...Gripes and Grudges

In 1983 there was a movie that changed my life, and it was called "The Day After". It was set in the 80's, after a nuclear attack from the Russians. I was 9 years old and it scared the HELL out of me. The fallout, destruction, and sheer devastation haunted me for years. So much so, that I had nightmares for years, and sometimes still do. Because of that movie, one of my biggest fears is Nuclear War. I suppose "War Games" would have had the same effect, had I seen it at the time.

You can see where I'm going with this comparison. Just mere days before the All-Star break, and as we inch closer to the trade deadline, Blackhawks Nation is getting restless and somewhat retarded. Sharpie has been out with a rumored broken wrist, and El Capitan looks to be out a few games after getting dinged up 2 games ago. Twitter is the absolute gutter of human behavior, because every stupid asshole that has an opinion jumps up on their soap box and starts spouting conspiracy theories and flat out lies. All it takes is one gullible idiot and that rumor grows a set of legs. The problem is that most people don't think before they spout off. If they DID they'd be smart enough to no start typing. Sifting through the bullshit that the Intarwebs has to offer is a job in and of itself. I can't imagine the complete and utter bullshit and laziness that beat writers must endure. While I certainly disagree with them plenty of times, watching them have to bite their tongues while they answer the same idiotic questions over, and over, and over is maddening. I can watch one of them post, "Corey Crawford in net tonight", and 2 hours later, some idiot that can't figure out out to scroll back on his timeline asks them, "Who is in goal 2nite? Corey Crawsford or Randy Emery?". I don't have the patience for that sheer stupidity, and anyone who does is a better person than I.

Anyhow, before I got off on that little jaunt, I was getting to the latest space junk cluttering up our glorious Intarwebs. Onward Satan's soldiers:
  • The most important issue is Jonathan Toews. No other issue is as big, or important. The team is keeping it tight lipped, but keeping Captain Big Balls out of a portion of a game is a big deal. While the only noticeable effect it had on him, was when he tried to take a shot Friday night, and left the ice clutching his arm, this could be anything. I didn't see anything extraordinary about the whacks he took Friday, so I'm going to say that he has a deep tissue bruise, that's swollen up and become very painful. I doubt they are going to want to play Russian roulette with a broken wrist, and put his tools of destruction at risk. This may all have been precautionary with the pending All-Star break on the horizon, they might have wanted to get him some rest before the big stretch run. All speculation, I know, but this situation needs to be monitored. This team isn't going anywhere without it's captain. Quenneville said this morning that there was no defining blow that hurt Toews, and that he probably wasn't playing in the meaningless exhibition All-Star game, which is an EXCELLENT idea.
  • The Goaltending is another issue I've seen debated online. People must have really short memories, because anyone that compares Corey Crawford to Cristobal Huet, or Ray Emery to Antti Niemi is just a complete and utter simpleton. No way around that. The other night, I watched Daily Herald beat writer Tim Sassone field tweet after tweet about this goaltending "controversy", and wanted to reach through my screen and strangle these goof balls. THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY! Get that through your thick melons! In 2009/10, Huet had one good game for every 5 or 6 maginal ones. Luckily, the team was able to bail him out, but he was pretty bad, more often than not. Niemi had his hiccup or two, but for the most part, was solid from the season's open. Fast forward to this season, and you have Corey Crawford, and Ray Emery. Both of whom have had their ups and downs, but they are also backstopping a team that gives up far more chances and shots than the one in 09-10. Furthermore, while Crawford had a bad night Friday, he came into that game as one of the hotter goalies in the league. Sprinkle in a team that was out of sync from the drop of the puck (excluding Boss Hoss), and you have a 5-2 Blackhawks loss. I'm not defending the 2 softies that he let up, but there was much more wrong than just Crawford's wide strike zone. Most of you travel, front time to time, and some of you might even do it for work. Imagine working late into the night, and then racing to the airport, only to have your flight delayed, and then almost diverted to another city in the middle of this whole thing. When all is said and done, you don't reach your hotel until 4AM, and have a big project due that day. Can you honestly tell me you wouldn't be going through the motions? I'd be chugging Red Bull and 5-Hour energy drinks, just to stay coherent, much less have to play a professional sport. These are young men, not robots. Off nights happen. To declare a controversy over one soft game on the road is just asinine. THINK PEOPLE!
  • The last point of contention is the kids: ShawFacts, Purple Hazer, and Agent Smith. After getting off to unrealistic starts, much like Mr Smith did a year ago, the kids are cooling down a bit. This isn't to say that they are playing bad, at all. I think they have earned their right to stick around, but they aren't scoring at the Gretzky like pace they were. Andrew Shaw has answered any questions about "replacing" the "grit" that Dan Carcillo brought. He has done what Carcillo was suppose to do, only better. He skates hard, wreaks havoc, chips in some offense, and best of all, he doesn't act like a complete loose cannon. Quenneville can squirt around the issue all he'd like, but there is no reason to re-sign Carcillo with Shaw in the system. He's younger, and doesn't have the reputation as a complete idiot, just yet. Not only that, but he can play center, which Carcillo can't. In a perfect world, he could play on the third line, and maybe let Bolland move up to play with some guys that have some offensive skill. At the very least, he could play anywhere on the 4th line.

    Hayes is another issue that is being dealt with pretty well. Hayes is proving to be the player that the Hawks though Bryan Bickell would turn into, which is basically a cheaper Troy Brouwer, with a little more of a physical edge. Hayes has shown decent speed and soft hands, as well as the ability to lay a hit, which is odd for a guy that was notorious for not using his size in Rockford. Maybe he was bored pushing around AHLers. Whatever the case, he's proving to be a nice find. I don't care if he had a glass jaw and cuddled kittens in Rockford, as long as he does the job with the big boys. It's still early, but the future looks bright. Maybe a 2nd or 3rd line power forward slot for Hayes?

    Ben Smith, on the other hand, has fallen into the category of a Jake Dowell. He's a smallish role player that just exists. One specific beat writer would like to tell you that the reason he's fading into the background is that he's not playing top 6 minutes. The reason he isn't playing those minutes, is that he's not a top 6 player. Not now, and probably not ever. He's best suited for a 3rd line gritty position, and if he works on his defense, could be a great 3rd liner. I'm going to keep repeating it until someone, besides me, starts to understand this. I don't hate or dislike the kid, he just is what he is. Bank on Smith heading back to the "A" when Sharpie is back.

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