Blackhawks Stand On The Brink Of Elimination After Game 4 Loss To Coyotes

By Randy Holt

It’s almost impossible for this series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes to get more predictable than it already is.

At this point, there are several certainties that we can expect with each game. You can expect Mike Smith to show up, you can expect the Hawks to score late and force overtime, and you can expect Corey Crawford to surrender an incredibly soft goal after 60+ minutes of very good hockey between the pipes.

That was once again the story on Thursday night, as the Hawks played a game that was almost identical to what we’ve seen in the first three games of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup. Unfortunately for the Hawks, showing up for the last bit of the third period isn’t looking to be too good of a strategy.

In an effort that lacked passion, despite needing a win to avoid going into a 3-1 hole, the Hawks needed two scores late to get to overtime. In the extra frame, it was Mikkel Boedker for the second consecutive game, skating in off of a turnover from a questionable blue line pairing of Nick Leddy and Sean O’Donnell and squeezing a softie past Crawford for the winner.

The argument could very easily be made that the Hawks had no business winning this game, as has been the case throughout the series. Several issues are still plaguing this team from the regular season.

The special teams are still awful. The power play is beyond words. At this point, just decline the penalty and continue at full strength. Joel Quenneville has no apparent interest in fixing anything. And while the penalty kill didn’t allow a goal in this one, the four guys on the kill sitting inside of their little cubicle in the defensive zone make life incredibly nerve-wracking. How about a little aggressiveness out there?

Crawford had another great game in net, but it came down to another soft goal. If Crawford didn’t have the poor regular season that he did, these goals might be a little more excusable than they are. But his inability to stop a pair of easy savable chances from Boedker have, obviously, been a big factor in putting the Hawks down 3-1.

But let’s not forget about the lack of help he’s getting up front. Aside from the defensive issues that plague this team on a nightly basis, where is the offense?

The only player that has come to play is Patrick Kane, out of the “core” players. Jonathan Toews hasn’t done much since his Game 1 performance and Patrick Sharp has been about as relevant in this series as Dan Carcillo. He’s a ghost.

Luckily the Hawks are getting some secondary scoring to keep them in these games, and it’s good to see Michael Frolik come alive after a very down regular season campaign. If they want any chance of coming back in this series, though, they’ll need the big guns to step up.

If you want a positive, it’s that we’ve seen the Hawks come back from down like this before, against a much better Vancouver Canucks squad in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. It isn’t going to be easy, but it’s definitely possible that they could mount a comeback. However, it’s going to take some big adjustments, and a much bigger effort, in order to do so.

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