The decision and its impact
Pittsburgh scored two goals early in the first period on Belfour, which made the score 2-1. At this time, I’d like to do a quick shoutout to coach Mike Keenan, who thought that this was a perfect time to put Hasek into the game.
What sense at all does it make to take out a goalie who had a possible MVP season the previous year, started the last 11 games for your team in the playoffs, and was your go-to stud all year?
That put Hasek in a terrible situation as he was facing the best offense in the league who was already hot in the game. Hasek also hadn’t played much in the playoffs, was a rookie, and he wasn’t prepared for the situation.
The game also already had the feel of a high scoring game with three goals in 6 minutes from the get-go.
Anyways the Blackhawks ended up rallying to tie the score at 3-3 by the end of the first period and to Hasek’s credit he limited the damage and the teams were tied 4-4 after two. Then came the third period.
Hasek was not being badgered by this team by any standard, he faced only 25 shots total. Hasek is a great goalie but he blew this game by letting up two goals to Larry Murphy and Ron Francis in the third and not even a Jeremy Roenick goal in the 11th minute could jumpstart the Blackhawks.
This was such a monumental miscalculation from Keenan. He put a guy with no experience in front of the best offensive team in possibly NHL history, which is kind of like putting a dear in front of headlights and telling it to try to stop the car.
Hasek ended that game with a .840 save percentage, which is noteworthy because Belfour never had a percentage lower than that in the series or the Playoffs. What could have been a huge comeback in the series was cut short by a stupid coaching decision.
That decision put this team back several years and the Blackhawks would not be able to recover until their 2010s dynasty. Those several years of none playoff appearances could have been avoided if only the coach made a better decision to make none and stick with Belfour.