"Chicago Blackhawks-One Goal"

The "Detroit Sucks" chants were loud and clear at the United Center during the first 30 minutes of play last night. Yet, when a team suddenly comes back from down 3-0, and ties the game going into the final period, that chant really has no meaning anymore. The Red Wings silenced the 22,000-plus fans during the last half of the second, and it seemed they were poised to go up 3-0 in the series.

Yet, as the slogan has been all year for this highly-marketable franchise, "one goal" changed everything in this series. There is still another must-win on Sunday, but for now, Patrick Sharp's overtime goal brought the Hawks back in the series. There is also something about this Chicago team in overtime that wants to get the games over in a heartbeat. This is their third overtime win at the United Center in the postseason, and all three have come within the first four minutes. Sharp's was at 1:52, and it let the Hawks fans breath a sigh of relief instead of waiting out one of those marathon overtime games in the playoffs.

This sets up another big one at the UC on Sunday. There are still many questions that need to be raised going into that game. Is Martin Havlat all right after taking a brutal hit from Detroit's Niklas Kronwall in the first period? I doubt he will play tomorrow after that check, but we will see. Either way, the Blackhawks will be pretty angry about what Kronwall did to Havlat, whether it was legal or not. The referees deemed it illegal, giving the Wings defenseman a 5-minute interference penalty and a game misconduct.

Another player question focuses on Nikolai Khabibulin, who was benched after the third period for backup goalie Christobal Huet. This substitiution was based on injury, not the fact that the Wings scored three in the third to tie the game. While Huet knows what he is doing, I am still more confident with Khabi in the net. We'll see how he feels tomorrow.

The other question revolves around the team, and that is what they will do about these Wings' rallies. For the third straight game, the Hawks jumped out on top. This was a three-goal lead, and they could not even hold that. Detroit just does not go away. Chicago still needs those early leads, but at some point, they need a complete effort to where they can keep the lead.

Either way, it is a 2-1 series now. Detroit is still in command, especially if they win on Sunday. It should be another wild one at the UC tomorrow, and the biggest question is whether the Hawks can win two straight "must-win" games against the defending champions.


Burgundy said...

Really cool to see the Hawks win game 3 in OT like that - very clutch, especially when the game turned and losing Havlat.

In fairness to the Hawks, I don't think it matters whether they win the series or lose it. The fact is, this season was a success both on the ice and off the ice. Their performance in this years playoffs knocking off Vancouver and Calgary shows Chicago are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

My team and I at Stayclassy.net believe Chicago's big problem will be retaining the key players that have gotten them this far with restricted/unrestricted free agency.