How many of you have seen the movie Anger Management, with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson? It was made toward the beginning of Sandler being awful, if you need a timeline. If you’ve viewed it even once before, you probably remember this scene (NSFW).
What’s this have to do with the Chicago Blackhawks? Well, it seems a large portion of the fandom needs to try Nicholson’s Eskimo chant following the Game 5 overtime loss in Anaheim. It seemed like there was a lot of panic as soon as the ’Hawks officially went down 3-2 in this Western Conference finals series.
Was it because of how the game finished? For some, probably. After Jonathan Toews’ heroics in the final two minutes of regulation, the game ended in the blink of an eye after Bryan Bickell made the laziest dump-in attempt ever and Matt Beleskey eventually put the puck behind Corey Crawford. But the result is no different than if, say, Ryan Kesler poked one home 16 minutes into the overtime. The ’Hawks would still lose.
Was it because it’s easier to panic following a tough loss than it would have been to look at the big picture? That seems likely.
Da Windy City
So the loss it was stunning and disappointing, sure. It felt like the ’Hawks kind of had the game won after Toews’ pair of goals. But they didn’t win. And so we move on.
Here’s why there’s very little point in dwelling on this game. The ’Hawks will probably (hopefully) never again in these playoffs play as poor a 20 minutes as they did to open Game 5. It was rotten all around, with only Crow really deserving exemption from our anger (though one could argue he should’ve had the third goal). Indeed, Chicago turned right around and blew the Ducks out of the water possession-wise for much of the remainder of the game. And that’s what we’ve been used to in this series.
That’s what’s important. The series didn’t end tonight. The ’Hawks will go back to the United Center and have the opportunity to run over the Ducks in possession once again, and things could very easily go Chicago’s way in that one. And then we’re talking about a 50-50 shot for Game 7 at the Honda Center, where the ’Hawks have already won once and nearly won again tonight. They’d also be coming off a Game 6 victory.
The ’Hawks are also still facing a Ducks team that, on the whole, hasn’t dealt with great success very often. To some, their ongoing chatter to the media about a number of topics (mostly their physicality) may come off as confidence. It should really come off as the Ducks still needing to convince themselves they can beat the ’Hawks in a seven-game series. Chicago doesn’t need to convince itself it can defeat Anaheim though. The ’Hawks know they can win this series, and they know many self-inflicted wounds have put them in their current 3-2 hole, versus some sort of dominance by Anaheim.
This team will not be put away easily, so fans just need to take a deep breath and relax. There’s a great chance we’ll see the ’Hawks’ best in Game 6. Joel Quenneville will not be lifting Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette. The men in the Indian Head are going to bring fire at the Ducks, and Frederik Andersen doesn’t seem so invincible in net right now. The ’Hawks have last change Wednesday, and they can pick on Anaheim defensemen like Clayton Stoner and Sami Vatanen.
There is the consideration of lifting Bickell after his truly rotten effort in Game 5, and struggles throughout these playoffs before this game. But that probably draws Kris Versteeg, or someone even rustier, back into the lineup alongside Patrick Kane. We’ll see how Q reacts to Bickell’s rough night in Anaheim.
But back to the main point. The ’Hawks are not dead in the water. They trailed Los Angeles 3-2 heading to Staples Center for Game 6 of the WCFs last year, and they won. They trailed Detroit 3-2 going to The Joe for Game 6 of the Western semis in 2013. Won that one, too. And this Game 6 is being held at The Madhouse, where the ’Hawks are historically stellar and probably would’ve won Games 3 and 4 against Anaheim had Q not gone all mad scientist. Toews said it best right after the game. So don’t panic, ’Hawks fans. It isn’t over til the handshakes.
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