I decided to visit Chicago during the opening weekend of the NHL season, and boy were they not kidding when they called this place the Windy City. As soon as I got out of the subway I got a face full of dry cold wind that immediately sucked any moisture out of my face and made me look like the Crypt Keeper. To remedy the situation I decided to hydrate myself with some nice cold beer, because when in Rome…
The thirst for a drink never goes away, even in the ice cold winter. And since I had a few days to kill before the games would start, I made sure to explore the bar scene to figure out the best spot.
To be honest I did not know what to expect from Chicago. I heard tons of good things, but being a Red Wings fan I had a natural urge to hate the place. They also have a damn good hockey team that is off to a superb start. The city reminded me that I was in a Blackhawk city everywhere I went. The pubs all had some sort of sport memorabilia hanging from the walls and most included some sort of Hawks reference. I like that, I liked that a lot.
What I do not like is how Chicago is playing right now. They have scored the most goals in the league after two games and are probably one of the hottest team on the ice, besides maybe Anaheim. The top 6 for this team posses incredible skill and are pretty much in the prime of their careers. Toews, Sharp, Hossa, and Kane are all having a fantastic start, specifically Kane and Hossa. Both have 5 points and Hossa has 4 goals. This team already has four guys with more than one goal, which shows the depth in scoring that this team posseses – very scary for the other teams in the Central. Consider that they already defeated last year’s champions LA Kings 5-2, and most pundits’ favorites to win the cup, the St.Louis Blues.
So everything is peachy in Windy City, huh? Well, not everything is perfect.
You must start with beer here. I might get my Chi-town visa revoked for this, because clearly people love beer here, but I did not have the best experience here. Maybe it was just the spots I visited and maybe it was just bad luck, but the beer I tried was somewhat of a letdown.
Metropolitan Dynamo Copper Lager seemed like a good choice at first. The description really got me interested. Copper Lager and Dynamo (Ovechkin played on Dynamo, so this beer can’t be anything but gr8, right?) is right there in the name. How can this beer be anything but awesome? Well, it was. It was anything but awesome. It was really just “meh” kind of brew. I hate to really put this one down because it is was not horrible, it is just not that good and especially for the price. It had a mild flavor with an after taste that reminds me of other American light beer, but maybe a bit more bitter. It did have good carbonation and is a fairly light beer that is easy to drink.
The problem I had with the beer is that it I expected more in the flavor department. While, yeah, it does not come with a high price tag, I still felt disappointed after reading that fantastic name. The head vanished in seconds and while it looks pretty at first with a white head and copper color, the attraction faded away with each gulp I had. The problem is that the flavor never made me want to order another one and being about 50 cents more than a staple like a Heinekin or an Amstel, I did not see the incentive to have another one – though I did anyway. Maybe if I had some salty dry fish with me it would help balance this beer, but no cigar.
This beer reminds me of Chicago Blackhawks goaltending; fairly attractive and promising at first, but just fizzled out and over shadowed by better bargains out in the league. Brian Elliot, Craig Anderson, and Sergei Bobrovsky to me offer a bit more quality goaltending for similar or much cheaper price.
The Hawks’ one Achilles’ heel seems to be the goaltending. Last year it came unraveling like a yoyo and has yet to come back neatly into place (Crawford is 2 and 0 right now). The truth is that it makes sense that this team’s weakness is the goaltending because if you look at the money they spend on the forward group and the back end, it does not leave much to spend on a goalie. Corey Crawford comes in at an affordable 2.6 million cap hit and really has not performed any miracles.
I think in Chicago people expect Crawford to perform the same job that Chris Osgood has done for the Red wings. Crawford does not have to stand on his head like Jonathon Quick or Henrik Lundqvist are expected to for their teams. Corey has had issues with soft goals and while Chicago can score goals, posting .903 SAV% during last season and even worse .893 in the playoffs, did not help the team at all. He had a fantastic first full year with 2.30 GAA and .917 SAV% that allowed Chicago to let go their Stanley Cup winning and pricey goalie, Antti Niemi.
Some will look for him to have a better season this year, and he might considering he’s already off to a good start. The potential is there and his team in front of him will surely provide enough offense to earn easy wins, but he has to absolutely prove that he will not let in the softies and can be relied for a big save or two. Unlike the Dynamo Copper beer that I will not be drinking ever again, I would like for Crawford to rebound and help Hawks succeed. But unlike my choice to grab another brew, Chicago is stuck with him for another year after this season and can’t just order another goalie at a whim.
PS: I also happen to order a Blue Moon at a random bar I stepped in and it came in a can. Blue Moon in a can? What’s the deal Chicago, what’s the deal? That’s rhetorical.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport and @LastWordOnNHL
Main photo credit: bridgetds via photopin cc