It’s hard to believe the Blackhawks’ season is over. After a hard fought battle the Bruins end up with the cup… HOLD ON! I just did some math, and despite what I’ve been told, the Hawks are actually still in this. Don’t get me wrong- I can sympathize with those who have prematurely given up all hope. The exhibition the Hawks put on Monday night reminded me of playing NHL Hitz on the rookie setting. Simply put: brutal. The loss of Hossa was significant. Not that he would have changed the outcome, because the team just didn’t show up. In a game that had an endless number of shortcomings, there were a few that stood out more than others.
The Power Play, which has been notoriously bad, was atrocious even for the Hawks’ low standards. In game two, I noticed the Blackhawks were getting into the zone successfully, but couldn’t set up once inside. In fact, they had a few entries I haven’t seen them use in a while. While they didn’t accomplish anything in game two, I did expect them to build around their successful entries. Instead we got a middle finger to the fans. They couldn’t enter the zone, and they couldn’t sustain the zone when they did. At times it honestly looked like they weren’t even trying to play a professional sport. I’m pretty sure that by the end of the night, the Bruins tripled the Hawks in shots while the Hawks were on the man advantage. In other words, they had more shorthanded shots than the Hawks had any shot attempts at all on the power play. At this point, I would just tell Toews or Kane to take over the PP, because clearly the coaching staff has no clue what they are doing. This is an absolute must if they want to even up this series before heading back into Chicago.
Toews and Kane need to be on the same line a lot more often. It surprised me how little those two actually played together considering that no one else was getting anything done outside of Sharp. Actually, that isn’t a completely fair statement. Frolik and Krueger were all over the ice doing what they needed to, but they are here for defense at this point. When those two are your biggest impact players for offense, you know you are having a bad night. Stalberg was in for Bollig, and he had a minor impact. He led a few rushes that looked like they could possibly lead to something. Of course, they didn’t. But I feel like the Hawks aren’t using his speed to their advantage. No one on the Bruins can keep up with him. Maybe the issue is that the Hawks don’t have anyone to keep up with him at this point either due to fatigue and/or injury. Sharp and Frolik are the only guys that seemed to be moving with any real swiftness. Maybe those three should end up on a line, if injuries and current configurations allow.
Hossa was out, and Ben Smith got his chance to shine. People seemed to like his performance, and I will admit that I enjoy watching him play. With that said, he looked terrible on that second goal. He either didn’t know what to do or was too gassed to play that smartly. While that one play isn’t going to change my opinion of him as a player, I was disappointed in that specific situation. But the kid did alright given that he was thrust into an usual situation and expected to fill Hossa’s skates. Luckily, it sounds like number 81 will be back for game four. The Hawks need him, but one player doesn’t make a team. Everyone will need to show up, much like in the Detroit series. The Hawks can’t afford to go down 3-1 against the Bruins, because it’s clear the Hawks won’t outlast them.
Luckily for the Hawks and their fans, the team can’t play much worse than they did Monday night. I’m pretty sure they will be much more prepared for game four. Crawford was the best player on the ice for the Hawks, and that’s not fair to Crow. He kept the Hawks in that last game, and they owe him and the fans a better effort.