By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) — In Game 1 on Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks had a 3-2 lead over the St. Louis Blues with 1:45 remaining in the game. The Blues tied it, then won the game in triple overtime.
On Saturday, the Blackhawks had a 3-2 lead over the Blues with six seconds remaining in the game. The Blues tied it, then won the game in overtime. That means the Hawks were a combined 1:51 away from being up 2-0 in this series. Instead, they’re down 0-2 to what was the league’s best team for 85 percent of the regular season.
They’re in deep trouble and have no one to blame but themselves.
For the first 30 minutes of this game, the Blackhawks leisurely skated around. They lost every physical battle. They lost every race to the puck. Their power plays were putrid. Nervous is a word that comes to mind. Listless is another.
Then, halfway through the second period, the Hawks turned it on and took the game over. Three unanswered goals had the Hawks up and in complete control … until.
The insanity began when Bryan Bickell extended his leg, causing a knee-to-knee hit on Vladimir Sobotka. It was a dirty play that landed Bickell in the penalty box. A minute and a half later, Brent Seabrook charged Blues captain David Backes. Backes looked badly concussed, and Seabrook earned a 5:00 charging major and a game misconduct. That was all the Blues needed. They had the rest of regulation to tie the game, and they did…with :06 left on the clock.
In overtime, Barrett Jackman scored 5:55 into the frame, and here they Blackhawks are down 0-2.
I had never seen the Hawks play the way they did today. Bickell and Seabrook’s penalties aside, the Hawks took a number of unnecessary, undisciplined penalties, which is totally out of character. When people scout the Hawks, they talk about speed, finesse, puck possession. The Hawks abandoned all three of those elements for a large majority of this game. The Blues are under the Hawks’ skin, and they’re unraveling.
So how can the Hawks bounce back and win this series? It’s going to be close to impossible, but if any team can do it, it’s Chicago. The Hawks can’t afford the “feeling out” process they employed during the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game. They’ve yet to put together a 60 minute effort, and they haven’t played the game that’s gotten them two of the last four Stanley Cups, and a number of regular season wins.
They say it’s not a series until the road team wins a game. Well, the Hawks have had two prime chances to do just that and let them slip away. The Blackhawks absolutely must win the next two games to have a chance at winning this series. What concerns me most is the fact that the Hawks have yet to look dominant for an extended period of time. That’s rarely the case. Can they find that dominance in Game 3?
They better, or this series is as good as over.