12:07 AM CDT, April 16, 2011
Ben Smith, hero.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, zero.
That’s a zero in terms of goals – combined, mind you -- and impact on the Blackhawks in their playoff series with Vancouver.
The Hawks’ big shooters have one point in this series -- combined, mind you -- and have shown none of their puck-moving talent in falling 4-3 in Game 2 on Friday night and dropping both games in Vancouver.
The Canucks naturally targeted the Hawks’ stars -- heck, they targeted everyone in out-hitting the visitors again -- and that punishment has forced a lot of passes high, wide and into skates, anywhere but on the tape.
You’d think the Hawks could at least return the pain, but they couldn’t find the Sedin twins, and the Sedin twins killed them. Daniel Sedin potted two goals and an assist, while Henrik had two assists, a five-point night for the family.
What’s more, the Hawks committed some of the worst errors at some of the worst times. They allowed a goal in the first minute of the second period and allowed another in the last minute of the period. Don’t blame the new kids on this. Heck, one of them, Smith, had two goals and Viktor Stalberg had the other.
No, blame players who should know better. Sharp gave the Canucks a power play after stupidly retaliating to create the first goal, then Brian Campbell failed to pin the puck carrier below the goal line to create the second. If the Hawks’ better players can’t be better than that, then forget it.
Look, the rule is, your best players have to be your best players. The Hawks’ best players, meanwhile, have been their fourth-line players. The Hawks’ supposed best players -- best-paid, anyway -- have gone 0-for-5 on the power play.
The Hawks talked about getting bodies and pucks to the net, but they couldn’t pass well enough to make it matter, and when they did get some traffic in front of Roberto Luongo, they couldn’t get many shots through because of, well, the traffic in front.
The Hawks talked about stepping up their physical play, but Vancouver did it louder and more often.
The Hawks don’t have many personnel options unless Dave Bolland’s head clears, but that alone won’t be enough. Nothing will be enough if Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa get outscored by Jannik Hansen and Alex Edler.
Optimistically, you could say the Canucks simply held serve. They won the games in their own rink. The Hawks have a chance to even the series in their rink, starting with Game 3 on Sunday.
But it doesn’t look promising, not with the Hawks’ big names AWOL on the power play and just about everywhere, while the Canucks have gotten something from every line in the first two games.
If Stacey King were in Vancouver, it would’ve been a lament, not a joyous shout: “Too big, too fast, too strong, too good.
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