Here we go again, talking about how the Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Detroit Red Wings for the third time. It was such a terrible game that they couldn’t even score. Everything went wrong, and even Jonathan Toews lost his cool and got the wrong kind of hat trick (in penalties, not goals). It seemed as though the only player in the Indian Head jersey doing anything worthwhile was Corey Crawford. At least only one octopus made an appearance on Thursday.
The Blackhawks are on the brink of elimination. There is a laundry list of things that they need to figure out: winning faceoffs, countering the Red Wings’ backchecking, being more precise on passing, fixing the power play, and most importantly, getting pucks to the net. I know that sounds clichéd, but it’s true. The more shots you take, the more likely that one will go in.
Three Red Wings players need to be neutralized: Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard. Kronwall and Ericsson have rendered Toews useless so far, so finding a way to shut them down will be the key to both unlocking the Blackhawks’ scoring and perhaps kickstarting Toews into getting his first postseason goal. As for Howard, he needs to be screened. Bodies need to be in front of him. This may be the only way, short of him having a complete breakdown in net, of scoring.
One thing that concerns me is the lines. In the last two games, Joel Quenneville has been shuffling lines so much that it’s had to tell who’s on what line anymore. That’s not what got them the President’s Trophy or all those league records. Unless the old line of Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp is coming back, I don’t see how shuffling lines will help. There are only so many times the Jedi minds tricks will work before your target catches on and adapts.
There’s a small glimmer of hope in this. Many fans are pointing out that in their quarterfinals series with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, the Blackhawks were down 3-0 but fought back to even the series before losing in overtime in Game Seven. Let’s hope the team can channel that with a better outcome.