Coming into the afternoon game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, some fans had the uneasy feeling that something bad would happen. Call it a curse, call it being underprepared, but the Blackhawks just don’t seem to have a lot of oomph in the majority of their afternoon games this season. This was evident in their 4-1 loss to the Red Wings to even their semifinals series.
It was a sloppy, poorly executed game on the Blackhawks’ part from the beginning, with only flashes of offense or defense to be found. Once again, Corey Crawford did his best to keep the team afloat, but he’s only one person. When losses like this happen, it’s not his fault that no one’s trying to help block shots coming his way.
What caught the Blackhawks off guard? It’s probably that they underestimated that the Wings would be ready for them, unlike Wednesday’s game. Perhaps the Wings found a counter to the Blackhawks’ speed and depth. I prefer to think that it was lack of sleep from playing the game at noon Chicago time. With the exception of their game on Easter (which was against the Red Wings), they’ve struggled in afternoon games.
There was only one bright spot in this entirely terrible game. Late in the first period, Patrick Sharp made a pass intended for Patrick Kane. The puck bounced to Michal Handzus, who wasn’t quite expecting it. He then passed the puck to Kane, who rifled a slap shot into the top corner and put the Blackhawks on the board first. It was Kane’s first goal of the playoffs, and it shook the scoring monkey off his back.
The Blackhawks need to focus on what went wrong and fix it quickly. At this point in the postseason, they can’t afford to play as haphazardly as they did. That kind of misstep will end their playoff run before they know it.