Hawks in Uphill Climb

The Chicago Blackhawks have been challenged before in this postseason. Every game that they needed to win, Chicago has come through with the victory.

In Round 1 against Calgary, they faced a Game 5 with the series tied at two. In Round 2 against Vancouver, they faced the same situation and won on the road. They also were down 2-1 in the series and had a big comeback win at home in Game 4.

Now in the Western Conference Finals, the Blackhawks face the biggest test of them all. They are down two-nothing against the defending champion Red Wings, with the series headed back to Chicago. They need to hold serve at home because even being down 3-1 going back to Detroit does not sound very promising. Something that should annoy fans is that the Hawks have been right there with the Wings in the first two games. Yes, they lost 5-2 in Game 1, but that game was tied at two almost midway through the final period.

The issue is, out of the seven goals Detroit has scored (not counting the empty-netter), more than half of them have come off of Chicago turnovers. You cannot do that against a team as skilled as the Red Wings are. The turnovers have led to odd-man rushes, most noticably in the overtime period last night. A three-on-one break should not develop against you in overtime. There was another three-on-one in Game 1 of the Vancouver series that occurred in the final two minutes and was the game-winning goal for the Canucks.

The Blackhawks like to push the tempo and that is fine. Yet you have to be careful with the puck because the Wings will make you pay for a mistake. The other problem the first two games has been that so many Hawks have tried to make one-on-one plays, or sometimes, one-on-three. Most of the Hawks players are skilled offensively, but you have to move the puck around against Detroit. You cannot beat Nikolas Lindstrom and the Detroit "D" single-handedly.

Game 3 is Friday and Game 4 is Sunday. There are two days off right now to get better and come through with a pair of wins at home. Chicago has been right there with the Wings, but it is only the final score that matters in the end. The Blackhawks need to limit their mistakes and move the puck. If not, Detroit will be on their way to another Stanley Cup Final.