TELANDER: Plenty of blame to go around for Blackhawks’ recent play
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org June 18, 2013 9:22PM
Jonathan Toews, David Krejci
at Hawks 4
Bruins (3OT) 3
at Hawks (OT) 1GAME 3
at Bruins 2
7 p.m. Wednesday
at Bruins, Ch. 5
7 p.m. Saturday
at Hawks, Ch. 5
GAME 6 if necessary
7 p.m. Monday
at Bruins, Ch. 5
GAME 7 if necessary
7 p.m. June 26
at Hawks, Ch. 5
Updated: July 20, 2013 6:49AM
BOSTON — You want the good news, Chicago?
Here it is: the Blackhawks easily could be down 3-0 to the Bruins in this Stanley Cup Final.
How Boston didn’t win the Game 1 triple-overtime thriller at the United Center — with a two-goal lead with eight minutes to go in regulation and about a hundred shots in OT — we know not.
So be happy, Hawks fans, that it’s only 2-1.
End of good news.
If the Blackhawks don’t get better on the power play — 0-for-11 in this series and 0-for-their-last-19 — they might want to decline any man advantage and ask the league if the Bruins can play at full strength no matter what. Indeed, there were times during one Chicago power play in Game 3 in which the short-handed Bruins were all over Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford like a Boston fog.
Then there is much-needed right wing Marian Hossa. He’s the four-time Stanley Cup vet who had three points way back in the clinching win over the Minnesota Wild in Round 1. And he’s a good defender.
Hurt? Not hurt?
Upper body? Lower body? Middle Earth?
Coach Joel Quenneville (‘‘Q’’) says Hossa likely will play in Game 4.
He’d better. Fill-in Ben Smith is still more IceHog than Blackhawk.
Next — Where is Jonathan Toews?
Captain Serious is still in the middle of the intense stuff, and he should be proud to have that 2013 Selke Trophy, as the top defensive forward, back home on his condo shelf.
But what happened to his offense? He’s got one goal in 20 postseason games, yet he had 23 during the 48-game regular season. The man has been shut off like a kinked hose. Back in the 2010 Stanley Cup victory march, Toews scored seven postseason goals.
Maybe he’ll get a half dozen in the next four games — if the series lasts that long. But it’ll be hard to do so with gigantic Zdeno “Chewbacca” Chara draped over him like a grizzly bear skin. Toews is going to have to break away from that monster defenseman, get way out of his own comfort zone and make things happen.
Asked if the scoring drought has affected Toews’ demeanor, teammate Patrick Sharp replied, “The answer’s no, it doesn’t really change him. He knows there’s more to the game than just scoring … He brings so much more to our team than that.”
He does. But now is desperation time. He needs to bring it all. The whole toolbox. Right now.
Indeed, to lose Game 4 at TD Garden and be down 3-1 and need to win three in a row to win the Cup — that’s not a situation that the Blackhawks want to get into.
The Blackhawks are not getting good shots or sweet, cheap rebounds — always the key to scoring. They have but one goal in the last two games, one of those an overtime game. They are getting driven away from the net like herded sheep and do not have an extreme load like, say, the long-departed Dustin Byfuglien, to camp out near the goalie’s light blue ice and make foes bounce off him.
Something vanished after that exuberant first period in Game 2 (19 shots-on-goal to the Bruins’ 4) and it hasn’t come back.
Patrick Kane? Last time when he was going dry in these playoffs, he came up with four goals in two games, including a hat trick.
He needs to do something like that again. Pronto.
Oh, and did we mention faceoffs?
The Bruins are winning those the way bullies take cookies from little kids. That can’t continue. As Bruins forward Milan Lucic noted, “It’s a lot easier starting with the puck than it is chasing it.”
What are the Blackhawks doing well?
One supposes it is this: They are not freaking out, not panicking.
They came back against a Detroit Red Wings team that had them by the throat. They dispatched a Kings team that was flying high.
They likely didn’t read Tuesday’s Boston Globe and see how hockey writer Kevin Paul DuPont described what is “pretty much Boston’s two steps to a championship this season. They keep shooters to the outside, and punish one and all who attempt, or even hope, to bring pucks to the net. It breaks the spirit, backs, and will and dreams of their opponents.”
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, what the stats show,” responded Sharp. “We’ve been in this situation before. You have to go in and believe you’re the best team on the ice.”
Even when everyone else is beginning to doubt.