9:14 AM CDT, May 21, 2013
The Blackhawks might have the better talent in their second-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings, but they’re failing to take advantage of it.
Looking at you, Jonathan Toews.
Maybe adversity will make a difference.
Failure met adversity on the Hawks’ power play in Game 3. Failure has met adversity on every goal-less Toews shift in this series.
I mean, should Toews really have as many goals as you in this series?
Heck, as many goals as you in the entire postseason. Toews has three goals in his last 29 playoff games dating to exactly three years today. This is serious, Captain Serious.
Toews does a lot of things for the Hawks -- wins faceoffs, centers the top line and first power-play unit, kills penalties -- so he can make a difference in a lot of ways. But other than the Hawks' perfect penalty killing this postseason, Toews is slipping, starting with scoring goals.
Toews will head into his ninth playoff game Thursday without one. Maybe you can get away with that against Minnesota, but not Detroit, and not in Detroit.
The thing about Toews is, he willingly goes to the tough areas -- the front of the net, behind the goal, the corners -- no matter how much abuse the oft-concussed center must absorb. But if he isn’t going to score, the Hawks are going nowhere.
Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk had not scored against the Hawks all season, and there he was at a critical time in Game 3, roofing a laser from the left wing to restore Detroit’s two-goal lead with less than seven minutes to go. Your move, Jonathan.
Toews has been getting roughed up by every Wing at every opportunity. It’s what the Hawks should be doing to Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The Hawks responded Monday night with some of their own physical play in a game the officials were vaguely familiar with. But it was the Hawks’ tenacity and speed that created a couple power-play chances.
If only they could do something with it.
The Hawks blew three chances with the extra skater -- three chances to take a lead and build on it -- before the Red Wings struck twice in 31 seconds.
Brent Seabrook got undressed on the first goal, Michal Rozsival committed a disastrous giveaway to create the second. Adversity was taking the body hard.
The Hawks entered the playoffs with a mediocre power play, and it’s killing them now. After failing at the end of the second period, the Hawks had missed eight straight times with a man-advantage.
That kind of failure wrenches the Hawks in two areas: First, they aren’t scoring -- duh -- and second, the more they blow those chances, the more emboldened the Wings’ physical game will become.
But wait. There were couple things worse than the Hawks power play: the Hawks in the faceoff circle and their puck management.
The Hawks lost the battle at the dot for the third straight game and they were losing the puck more than they seemed to be getting blamed for statistically. Quick, someone tell the Hawks you can’t play a puck-possession game without the puck.
The Hawks had a right to think they got hosed when the apparent tying goal was wiped out in the third period. Andrew Shaw was called for goalie interference even though he never seemed to touch the goalie.
But at the same time, the Hawks got away with one when Niklas Hjalmarsson rammed Johan Franzen face-first into the boards moments before Kane buried a breakaway.
Gripe about a bad call on Shaw if you want, but there was a worse and more obvious non-call that benefited the Hawks. If Hjalmarsson goes to the box, then Kane’s goal doesn’t happen, and who knows if the Hawks ever score.
This was not some bad luck late. This was some bad choking early. Forget what the officials did or did not do. Therer are bigger issues dogging the Hawks: the power play, faceoffs, puck management, the captain. The Hawks now trail the series two games to one. Adversity is on the power play.
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