All I wished for was for this series to be over quickly.
I sent a letter to Santa.
Before Memorial Day, mind you.
I wished the Chicago Blackhawks would beat up on the Detroit Red Wings and move on to the Western Conference finals in four or maybe five games. I wanted to write about how much faster the Hawks were, and about how much the young defensemen of Detroit—tell me that doesn’t sound like an after school program— couldn’t keep up with Chicago’s big time forwards.
Well so much for that.
The Hawks found themselves on the bad end of a 3-1 mess last night in Detroit and down in this best-of-seven series two games to one. Now I could sit here and whine about a disallowed goal, or about the Hawks anemic power play, or about the physical nature of the series, but the truth is a morbid sense of curiosity has crept over me. I’m curious to see what happens when a team that has spent the first 55 games of its season as the big dog on the block responds when faced with legitimate pressure.
And no, this isn’t pressure like playing with a large winning/unbeaten streak on the line; that’s playing with house money. This is ‘all the chips are out on the table’ time.
So which Hawks team is gonna show up? I think the odds would have to tell us they bounce back in game four, as they haven’t lost three-in-a-row in 15 months. However it seems awfully apparent that these Red Wings aren’t the least bit impressed with Chicago’s résumé. And that goes for their coach Mike Babcock as well. As much as it pains me to say it, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is getting out-coached for the first time this year. If the Hawks continue to allow Detroit to exploit them in the second period— they’ve been outscored 4-0 in these last two games—then they might just find themselves available for that Memorial Day barbecue at the in-laws.
On the other hand if Chicago can get their engines—read Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa—started and stop leaving goalie Corey Crawford out to dry, well then it might not be time to jump ship just yet. And it really is that simple; they need more offense, and the defense has to get the puck out of its own end—period.
After three games in this series I see a team that looks like they’ve been playing hockey with their backs against the wall for a month now, and I see a team absolutely loaded with talent.
Sadly what usually happens when these types of teams meet is not at all what I wished for.