I sincerely believe that this group can accomplish anything. I’ve seen it happen too many times to think otherwise. But I have absolutely no idea how they recover from this one.
That was as bad as it gets.
The Blackhawks lost Game 3 to the Predators 3-2 in overtime after blowing a 2-0 third period lead. The top-seeded Hawks shockingly trail 3-0 in the series. No explanation needed to describe the task ahead.
The Hawks had the Preds exactly where they wanted them after finally hitting the scoreboard twice in the second period. All they had to do was hang on in the third period, and they choked. A couple of extremely unfavorable bounces and missed calls certainly didn’t help. Three games in and the Hawks have now been pushed to the brink when so many assumed this would be a relative cake walk. Not so much. Let’s clean it up…
-If you can’t see that age is finally catching up with the Blackhawks then I don’t know what to tell you. It’s so blatantly obvious. And it’s sad because it’s been right there in front of us this whole time. The Hawks have played so much high stakes hockey over the last nine years. They just simply cannot keep up speed-wise like they used to. Every time someone handled a puck or tried to thread a pass there was a Pred already checking them or closing the passing lane.
Hossa, even with a tremendous regular season, looks every bit of 38. You wonder how much longer he can produce at a high level. Oduya is Oduya, Seabs is Seabs. Keith regressed and slowed this season for the first time. I don’t even know what planet Toews is on right now or where to even begin with his game.
It’s our worst fears realized, the miles that put those banners in the rafters have finally taken their toll. This series has forced us to see what we didn’t want to believe.
-The Hawks survived a squirrely first period despite having some good chances of their own. After the first two games, being even after one was definitely something to at least build on. One thing that was noticeable was the Hawks improved defensive play. Despite their lack of speed, the D-Men looked much more comfortable with the puck in Game 3, especially Oduya, who turned in a better performance (until later). Keith also looked smoother as well. And that’s what totally sucks. None of the three goals given up were because of any egregious defensive breakdowns except the last one.
-Of course it was going to be Dennis Rasmussen who finally broke through for the Hawks. Just like we all predicted (Jamie actually did). His greasy goal in the second period finally got the Hawks on the board. Kane would add a power play goal to push the lead to 2-0 going into the third. If you’re the Hawks you honestly couldn’t have asked for much more.
-We all knew the third wasn’t going to be a picnic. These things are never easy. So of course it seemed totally appropriate that a puck would freaking bounce off the glass directly into the crease for Forsberg to tap-in behind a confused Crawford. We talked about puck luck and bounces going Nashville’s way all series, and guess what, they got all the bounces again tonight. Go figure.
-If that tying goal isn’t blatant goalie interference then I don’t know what is. Crawford established position on the edge of the crease and Arvidsson’s stick (hook) impeded his ability to go to his left to make the save (and upon further review also got smoked in the head). Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Wrong. This is the NHL. Where no one knows the rules.
-But before all of this, Rinne robbed Schmaltz on a breakaway that would have put the Hawks up 3-0 and possibly sealed the deal. But the game shifted on that play. Rinne kept the Preds alive just long enough for them to get some more BS bounces.
-The Hawks had some nice chances at the beginning of overtime, but faded as the period went along. After the first five or so minutes it seemed like Nashville was getting the only quality chances. The Hawks couldn’t sustain any zone time, meanwhile the Preds peppered Crawford left and right. It was only a matter of time.
-The game-winning goal started with a brutal turnover by Hossa at the blue line. That gave Nashville possession and they were able to work the puck in deep, Neal made a sweet pass to Fiala who snuck behind Oduya (yay, Stan) who was caught like a deer in headlights right in front of the blue paint. Fiala made a nice move to hook the puck around Crawford and into the net to win the game. Goodnight.
-Can’t put any of the blame on Crawford. Nashville had 49 shots in the game and he valiantly stopped 46. It took a freak bounce off the glass and a missed interference call to beat him. Crow bailed out the Hawks time and time again, like usual. He needed more than two goals of support, which in this series is like asking the Hawks to turn water into wine.
-The only Hawks who looked remotely engaged for three periods and change were Kane, Kruger and Rasmussen. Other than that…
Not sure if there are any positives to draw from this game. The Hawks had everything right there in front of them and they absolutely blew it. Now they have to sit around and think about it for two days before they play an elimination Game 4.
I guess one point of encouragement would be that in 2011 a far less talented Hawks team looked dead in the water down 3-0 to Vancouver. That team found a way to roar back and force overtime in the seventh game. If that shell of a squad could pull it off, why can’t this one? Coming back from 3-0 would be the last thing on this team’s comeback checklist…
But for those of you who love to panic, now is finally your time. The Hawks are on the brink, and even I’m not sure how they get out of this one. There’s no one left in galaxy for them to swindle.
To the cliff…