It’s officially panic time for the Chicago Blackhawks. Down 3-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Detroit Red Wings, their backs are against the wall and they have a serious hill to climb. Since 1942, 20 teams have been able to pull of the difficult feat of coming back to win a series after trailing 3 games to 1. It’s not impossible, but the odds are not in the Hawks favor.
The Non-Existent Power Play
In what was hoping to be the missing piece of the Hawks puzzle, turned out to be their own worst enemy. The Hawks power play has been absent since the first period of Game 1. From a visual standpoint, the power play seemed to be deflated. Feet weren’t moving and several times, they couldn’t even get into the Wings zone. Eventually, the Hawks resorted to the dump and chase to try and create something…anything, only to have the Red Wings play it perfectly and clear the zone time after time again. The Blackhawks have gone 0-14 since that lone power play goal 3 games ago.
The Absent Captain
I don’t remember the last time seeing a player’s frustration be more visible than Jonathan Toews has been over the last 2 games. Having not scored in 15 shot attempts and only recording 1 assist through 4 games, Toews has been nothing short of disappointing so far this series.
Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Wings brought out the worst in Captain Serious. 5:20 into the 2nd period, Toews was called for a hooking penalty on Drew Miller. After being out of the box for only 44 seconds, Toews was heading back to the box for a hi-sticking call (which some people will debate the call) on Justin Abdelkader. Just when the Hawks thought they were getting their leader back on the ice, Toews was heading back to the sin bin for a third time just 50 seconds later for another hi-sticking call on Valtteri Filppula.
A frustrated Toews summed up the Blackhawks woes in the post game interview, stating:
“We’re not making any excuses for ourselves. We know that we’re playing good hockey and we’re playing hard for each other, so we’re not leaving anything out there…We just need to find a way to score.”
Unfortunately for Toews and the rest of the Hawks, the Red Wings are playing better hockey.
Jimmy Howard May Not Be Human
As mentioned at some point during Thursday’s broadcast, Jimmy Howard seems to be getting better and better as this series progresses. Other than Game 1, Howard has been nothing short of super human. Several points throughout Thursday’s game, the Hawks would come down the ice with a 2 on 1, 3 on 2, etc. and most people would have thought he was dead in the water. Of course he wasn’t. There was one save in particular I thought there was no chance Howard was stopping it. As we all know now, he made that save and held on to his shutout.
After his Game 1, 4 goal mishap, Howard has allowed 2 goals in 3 games. In the previous 3 games, Howard has faced 88 shots and has only allowed 2 to slip passed him. Those 86 saves have resulted in a .977SV%. Again, as Toews mentioned, the Hawks are creating good chances, hitting posts, and getting the puck to the net, but just can’t find a way to get the puck passed Howard.
I said it in the last article and I’ll say it again: The 2013 Detroit Red Wings are reminding me more and more of the 2012 Los Angeles Kings. They seem to have gotten hot at the right time and their goalie is putting the team on his back. Coach Quenneville tried to mix up the lines last game to create a much needed spark amongst the team. However, Coach Q may need to look to go back to basics and look for the Hawks of the early season. If not, the boys will be golfing much earlier than everyone anticipated.
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