RedEye

Three worst words in finals: Blackhawks power play

How many times do we have to tell the Blackhawks that their power play stinks?

Every time it takes the ice, apparently.

The record will show they lost Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final 2-1 Saturday in overtime. Truth is, they lost it in the first two periods.

One game after blowing a two-man advantage, the Hawks wasted three power-play chances in the first 40 minutes, and instead of extending their lead, they were caught.

How do you explain a team that plays so well at even-strength suddenly turning so slow and pathetic when they have the man-advantage?

The Hawks look great on the perimeter. They are champions of the power-play perimeter. When they can gain the zone, that is.

But shots? Hardly any.

Scoring chances? Waiting. Wait. Ing.

They have the right players out there. They have their best players out there. But through two periods of Game 2, they have one goal in their last 24 chances in their last eight games, none in their last 14 chances.

Where was Patrick Sharp’s one-timer on the off wing? Where was Patrick Kane dancing and creating on the other side? Where was Jonathan Toews walking in from the goal line?

NBC analyst Mike Milbury characterized the Hawks power play as “ineptitude.’’ He was being kind.

Talk about killing momentum. The Hawks owned the first period, buzzing the Bruins with their skating. They got their fast pace, they worked their transition game, they applied some asphyxiating pressure and mounted a 19-4 shot assault that produced a 1-0 lead.

But it was only a 1-0 lead, and the Bruins took over the second period, hitting the Hawks and leaving them hit. Milan Lucic wrecked several Hawks himself, and the Bruins suddenly righted themselves, crashing the net to tie it with about five minutes to go.

You could make a case that in the first period the Bruins still hadn’t recovered from losing in triple-overtime in Game 1. They looked physically and mentally fatigued. The Hawks also made them look that way.

You also could make a case the Bruins did the same to the Hawks the last two periods and especially in overtime. The Hawks’ third straight overtime game seemed to catch up to them because they were losing puck battles and developed zero flow.

After 19 shots in the first period, the Hawks managed 15 the rest of the game. Shots aren’t everything, I know, but the Hawks were rarely dangerous, especially on the power play.

In an all-overtime series, this is a big problem. Same goes for the Bruins’ hitting. If the Hawks don’t make them pay, the Bruins will dole out more punishment, and then the Hawks’ five-on-five possession game will have a bigger problem.

It already does.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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