— Hoping for fresh legs and minds for Must-Win Wednesday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville canceled practice Tuesday so his team could review videotape of the 2-0 loss in Game 3.
No evidence suggests the Blackhawks actually watched.
"I thought we played well,'' defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
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If the goal was to lose 71 percent of faceoffs and add five more futile power plays to a scoreless streak now at 20, then indeed the Hawks had every reason to feel as satisfied as Seabrook sounded. If not, then a veteran needs to announce to teammates in the room before Game 4 that however well they think they played isn't good enough against a Bruins team dominating every phase.
"I didn't think it was that bad,'' defenseman Johnny Oduya added.
On behalf of everyone from Chicago learning to spell Tuukka Rask without looking, it was. The Hawks haven't scored on the Bruins goalie in more than 122 minutes. Could it get worse? Unless the Hawks fix what they don't think is broken, the answer is yes.
Nobody scoffed when a national reporter asked Quenneville about the "death grip" the Bruins had on the Hawks. A team playing well doesn't prompt such a question. The loss of Marian Hossa, who's likely to play Game 4, doesn't excuse all four lines coming up empty.
A fine line exists between acknowledging the need to improve and damaging confidence with any perceived show of weakness. The Hawks teetered on that line. The first step in solving a problem can be acknowledging it.
From Jonathan Toews on down, teammates rationalized that if they stayed the course as they did against the Red Wings, victories will come. Memo to Hawks players: the Bruins aren't the Red Wings.
That's no knock on the Wings, who peaked at the right time. But Boston's hockey team has as much character as its village streets and hardy people. You saw it in the way the Bruins treated losing Game 1 in triple overtime like just another bad day at the office. You saw it in Game 7 of the first round when the Bruins rallied from a 4-1, third-period deficit against the Maple Leafs to win in overtime. Boston Strong isn't just something you see on T-shirts and Twitter.
"After what we went through against Toronto, it opened guys' eyes,'' Bruins center Brad Marchand said.
Since giving up 18 goals against the Leafs, the Bruins have allowed just 17 in 12 games. They haven't lost at home since Game 5 of that series.
Do the Hawks have what it takes emotionally and tactically to conquer their greatest challenge yet? Their last power-play goal came in Game 2 against the Kings. The Bruins have killed 26 straight penalties. It is so bad Quenneville identified a secondary goal of Hawks power plays: "Make sure we don't lose momentum.''
The irony was Mike Haviland, the former Hawks assistant coach fired after the 2012 season partly because of power-play issues, celebrated Tuesday becoming the head coach of the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Obviously, the problem wasn't Haviland any more than the solution was hiring Quenneville buddy Jamie Kompon from the Kings. A problem this acute indicts everybody; coaches, players, executives.
Reached on the phone, Haviland wanted no part in discussing the Hawks' struggles but was quick to point out the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 with a subpar power play and ranked below the Hawks this season.
"They know what they're doing there, and I'm sure they're talking about simplifying the game and getting more pucks and bodies at the net,'' Haviland said. "I still believe it'll be a long series. I know that room and those guys in Chicago. They're winners.''
Winners find a way, forcing the Hawks to alter their approach against the Bruins' penalty killers. Move Patrick Kane around more. Vary the entry point. Crash the net with pucks and people. Stop shooting right into Rask's glove — that's like trying to strike out a .300 hitter with fastballs down the middle.
Quenneville often tinkers successfully, which is why criticism of his juggled lines without Hossa was misplaced. The only thing Quenneville is known for more than experimenting is his mustache. They don't call it trial-and-error because it works every time. Besides, pairing Kane and Toews hurts line depth and helps the Bruins match up.
My sense is Quenneville knows Claude Julien is outcoaching him more than his players realize the Bruins are outplaying them. History says expect Coach Q to counter shrewdly.
"In the Detroit series we found a way to get ourselves back into it and that's what we're looking for,'' Quenneville said. "We have to win tomorrow night.''
Finally, the truth comes out.