I put must-win in quotes because the Chicago Blackhawks do not have to win Thursday to keep their season alive, but, in essence, yes they do.
Tuesday's game was probably the worst they have played since the playoffs began. This is an even more alarming sight considering it happened at the rockin' United Center, where the best attendance in the league has been behind their team since the season's home opener.
The Blackhawks showed little life in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver, and the fans could not really get into the contest. There was some signs of momentum following Brian Campbell's power-play goal in the second period, but those vanished soon after. Give some credit to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who stopped 23 of 24 shots, but most of those saves were not spectacular.
The Canucks controlled things at the start, just like they had done in the first two games. Yet this time, they basically controlled the action through the entire 60 minutes. There was no great comeback, and even if there was, the Hawks have to be getting tired of these early deficits. Other than a few games in the Calgary series, especially Game 5, there has been no good first period for the Blackhawks.
It is time to turn up the intensity for tomorrow night's game. If you go down three games to one heading back to Vancouver, you are in for one tall task.