Five minutes into the third period of last night’s Game 1 of the conference semifinal between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, the shots on goal tally had the Hawks ahead 31-16. The clock keeping track of puck possession had long ago deactivated itself, and the turnover margin was so lopsided in Chicago’s favor that the supposedly unbiased broadcast team made reference to youth league teams who made fewer mistakes in their own zone.
And yet despite this, the score was tied one-all, and I was terrified. If the Hawks managed to give up a fluke goal and drop game 1 after playing as well as they had, I’m confident now I would’ve stroked out.
Lucky for me these aren’t my father’s Blackhawks (sorry dad). This is a team that seems to being playing with a chip on its shoulder despite being highly touted. I think coach Joel Quenneville is locking Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane in the secret dungeon beneath the United Center and showing them video of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I think he’s got them strapped to those chairs from A Clockwork Orange that keep their heads locked in place and their eyes open and in their ears they hear Chris Berman’s “resigned tone” repeating, “well guys, they might not have won the President’s Trophy, but I just don’t see how anybody beats the Pens in a seven game series.”
If I’m a Red Wings fan, I’m flat out terrified. Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya is giving the team huge production from an unexpected spot. The fourth line is out-scoring the first. Sharp evidently spent his time on the DL buying up Vijay Singh’s entire cache of deer antler spray. And heaven forbid if team captain Jonathan Toews wants to get involved; Detroit could be looking at four goals at least per game.
If Brendan Smith, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson don’t tighten down the clamps defensively and eliminate the turnovers, this series could get out of hand. Quickly.
But of course I knew they’d end up winning big.
“What, me worry?”