In December of 1966 Clint Eastwood’s epic spaghetti western The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly debuted in Italy to mixed reviews. Evidently director Sergio Leone’s depiction of violence was a bit more than many felt the American film-goer would except.
My, oh my, how the critics whiffed on that one.
Back here in the States, the Chicago Blackhawks had finished the regular season leading in the standings for the first time in their history, and they were the top seed heading into what would be the final postseason between the NHL‘s “original six” franchises.
The “good” part of 1966 was that the Detroit Red Wings were terrible. They finished fifth out of six teams and and failed to qualify for the postseason. The “bad” was clearly the pain my father and thousands of other young cowboys experienced when it was decided to delay the American release of T,G,B&U until 1967, in hopes the violence could be toned down. The “ugly” surrounded the Hawks’ choke job in the first round of the playoffs versus the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs. This season was the best shot stars Stan Mikita, Phil Esposito and Bobby Hull had as a trio to win the Cup in Chicago, and it’s known as one of the bigger postseason flops in hockey history.
And that, ladies and gents, is your rantsports.com history lesson for the day.
Let’s now fast forward to this evening at the United Center; the Hawks and Wings will face off against one another in what will be their 16th meeting in the postseason. The Hawks have an 8-7 series lead, and if they can manage to advance they’ll banish the Wings to the Eastern Conference next year with a losing record versus their arch rivals. The series begins six days after Chicago mopped up the Minnesota Wild in five games, and since then the Hawks have spent their time getting healthy and making some line changes based on returning players.
Meanwhile, I’ve found very little to do other than burn Red Wings jerseys and watch old westerns—as if you couldn’t tell—and so I thought I’d offer up the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for this Western Conference semifinal.
Corey Crawford: His career numbers versus Detroit are filthy. He’s 11-2-2 with a 1.82 GAA and .943 save percentage. He’s also been victorious in all four starts against the Wings this year.
Patrick Sharp: He’s scored five goals for Chicago in the first round after scoring six in 28 regular-season games. His 33 career points (15g, 18a) against Detroit lead all active Blackhawks.
The UC: The Hawks are 25-11 in the postseason versus Detroit. If they can win their home games, they move on.
Henrik Zetterberg: He scored three goals and added two assists in Games 6 and 7 against the Anaheim Ducks.
Pavel Datsyuk: He’s failed to score a single point versus the Hawks in four games this season.
+7: The goal differential for the Blackhawks over the Wings in their four games this season, most of any Western Conference playoff team.
21,7: The number of full strength and power play goals the Wings have given up in the postseason. Both are good for last among remaining playoff teams.
2: The number of Chicago power play goals; worst of the teams still in it.
The Red Wings Jerseys: Attaching a wing to a tire is, in every way, stupid. If you had wings, you wouldn’t need tires. It’s precisely this lack of foresight that has Detroit in its current predicament.
Pavel Datsyuk: Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The guy looks like an alien.
Johan Franzen: The Red Wings’ LW is -5 so far in the playoffs. The Hawks need to take advantage of his defensive shortcomings.
The Detroit Forecheck: They can’t skate with the Hawks, and can’t match their depth, so they’re most likely gonna try and muck things up. Look for a bunch of rough stuff right off the bat in an effort to set the tone.
At one point in T,G,B&U the character Tuco (Ugly) looks at Eastwood (Good) and says, “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.”
Here’s hoping the Hawks are the latter type.