Good weekend for all you busy fans to stock up the cupboards for the Blackhawks' push toward the playoffs with refreshments, snacks and razor blades.
Make sure to select the cutters with the embedded aloe vera so the slicing will be smooth as possible. No need to nick yourself before you die.
Just remember this, it's always darkest before the dawn, and I truly believe it's now dawned on the Hawks that Cristobal Huet is not the answer. Not this weekend. Not next weekend. Not next year. Not this century. Not in the afterlife.
Therefore, it's morning in America on West Madison Street.
Cockadoodle-do! Rise and shine. Forgive me while I go into my sunny song-and-dance, just one of my bad habits.
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, what a wonderful day. It's the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual. Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder. Wonderful feeling, wonderful day.
The longest journey begins with one single step. It's never too late to start over again.
Times a-wastin' and a cake is no good if you don't mix the batter and bake it/ and love is just a bubble if you don't take the trouble to make it (so says my gal June Carter Cash).
OK, now I'll get serious and go to the classics for your reflection of the day.
What better time to bring in Horace to give your sagging attitudes a much-needed steroids shot, courtesy of Alex Rodriguez's leftover stash.
"Carpe Diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think."
Wait a second, was that Horace or Joel Quenneville? No, definitely Horace. Q doesn't usually string that many sentences together unless he has just seen the worst something or other in the history of sports.
OK, it's getting a little bit crowded out here on the ledge with all you bandwagon jumpers elbowing me. Let's crawl back to some optimistic ground and away from our Mel Brooks' High Anxiety. My fingernails are fraying and I sing and dance better on terra firma.
The Hawks remain one of the best teams in the National Hockey League with the fourth most goals (231), with the fewest goals allowed (181), with the second best home penalty kill (88.2), with the most shots (2507), with the fewest shots against (1816), with a 30-1-3 record when leading after two periods and 25-5-5 when leading after the first period.
I could go on with the A-list roll call, but I don't want you to become too overconfident and forget your fears of falling. These guys just have forgotten temporarily how good they are, but I suspect muscle memory will come to their rescue--the muscle that might turn out to be the most important right now.
The muscle that flexes best when a team is united and playing not with one another, but for one another.
There is no good, easily transparent explanation for how a 41-15-5 team at the Olympic break has degenerated into a 46-20-7 team other than shit happens and a .500 team is absolutely no fun to watch at all. You just get done praising them when they decide to suck and conversely you just get done lambasting them when they decide to be good again.
Leave the split personality act to me.
Patrick Sharp saying the 8-3 pasting in Columbus Thursday had been percolating in the spotty play since the Olympics raises some question of exactly where their focus has been. Injuries have taken a toll, but as we know, all teams must overcome injury--and we proudly pointed to team depth earlier this season as a reason to believe this group could repel all adversity.
Apparently, their dedication to duty took a vacation. Happens a lot in sports, but when it turns a great team into a sporadic and mediocre producer with the postseason beckoning and now charging at us with the ferocity of a slobbering Doberman targeting our gonads, these negative changes will be noted. The disappointment should be criticized by one and all.
So what kind of rematch do we have Sunday at United Center when the Blue Jackets step into the ring again with Chicago? It is hard to follow that self-proclaimed biggest game of the Hawks' season last Tuesday against Phoenix (a 2-0 win) with the biggest game of the Hawks' season again Sunday against Columbus.
From what I can ascertain, we have nine biggest games of the season left before none of it matters in the least and we enter the biggest games of the season in the playoffs. Kind of confusing, isn't it?
We might have to take a page from the Mike Tyson playbook and chew off Evander Holyfield's ear Sunday. In hockey, things like that are a matter of course. No one would hardly notice long as there's no unfair hit to the head before the Columbus ear chewing commences.
I guess we need to start taking these biggest games of the season one game at a time. Just to maintain some small perspective.
Should Antti Niemi actually suck Sunday, I believe there is a sizeable segment willing to wave a white flag and just withdraw from the playoffs before further embarrassments. From what I see on TV, you might have to fight the Blackhawk Standbys to do it and some of the old broads look feisty and mean to me, so watch yourself in the clinches.
The fact remains, however, that Huet remains one Niemi blowout away from yet his millionth chance at resurrection, whether you agree or not that he's a dead man skating.
So there is your internet poll question for next week. If Niemi and Huet both suck equally in the remaining nine games, at what saloon are you prepared to sign the surrender papers?
Not me. I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. I'm going right back out on that ledge with a fearless prediction.
The Hawks win their next three games, beating the Jackets Sunday and then traveling to St. Louis to whup the Blues Tuesday and on to Minnesota to trample the Wild Wednesday.
And Niemi wins every one.
Those six points will raise them to 105 for the season, just three short of the most points in history for a Hawks' team.
In the final six games against New Jersey, Calgary, Dallas, St. Louis, Colorado and Detroit the Hawks go 2-2-2 just to scare the hell out of us again and finish with 111 points. Huet plays two of those games. I'll let you guess which two.
Life is not always wine and roses, but sometimes whine and pansies.
Just remember back to when we were bitching about the Hawks never making the playoffs. Bitching about the Hawks failing to be the best team in the NHL 100 per cent of the time certainly is an upgrade.
I would like to make a final request here. Could somebody get a picture this weekend of Scotty Bowman laughing at any suggestions the Hawks might want to think about addressing their goalie situation a while back?
I just want it for my files. Plus, any picture of Scotty Bowman laughing is a rarity. Now that I think back on it, Scotty did tell that Toronto radio audience that the whole Hawks front office was laughing at us at the trade deadline for being so stupid.
Make that a group photo. I'll get it signed at the Blackhawks convention by all the jokers.
Let's see who gets the last laugh here. I hope it's all of us, because if there is a coming war with Washington and Alex Ovechkin in the championship, I'd like some of those Blackhawk Standbys beside me in the trenches.
Don't give up yet, folks. The fun's just beginning. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah to you, too.