Heading into Game 4, many (too many, if you ask me) do not believe the Chicago Blackhawks can rebound in the Stanley Cup Final after their less-than-stellar performance in Game 3 which ended in a 2-0 loss.
If history is any indication, the Hawks may be in trouble. Since going to the best-of-seven format in 1939, the NHL has seen the teams taking a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final win hockey’s greatest prize 83% of the time (39-8). But as far as the playoffs go, as rewarding as it is to relive history, it is, for all intents and purposes, meaningless.
In Game 3, Chicago’s power play was nonexistent as they went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage. But there was more to it than that. Their power play generally looked very nervous on Monday night especially Patrick Kane who, while he doesn’t always light up the scoreboard when his team is up a man, is usually very fluid out there generating ample amount of opportunities. Game 3, however, was not one of those instances as Kane looked just as out-of-place as the rest of the team. With that said, though, Chicago’s unimpressive power play should not completely alter the momentum level of either team.
Like this round, the Blackhawks began their opening-round and Western Final series with Minnesota and Los Angeles winning the series’ first two games on home ice before dropping the third game on the road. In both cases, those who thought their opponents were nipping at their heels, the Blackhawks broke away winning both series in five games.
While this scenario is slightly different being that the Hawks split the first two games of the Final, it is relatively similar. The Hawks have dominated on home ice this postseason but when they step into enemy territory, they get a reality check of sorts. But they get used to unfriendly territory, get refocused and it’s back to business.
For one, Marian Hossa missed Game 3 and today Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said that the Slovakian is ‘likely’ to play in Game 4 which should keep the Bruins on their heels. After all, Hossa holds a share of the team playoff lead with 15 points.
Another Blackhawk with 15 points this spring is Patrick Sharp who has a pair of goals in Game Fours this postseason. Speaking of Chicago’s Game Fours, Bryan Bickell leads the way with a goal and two helpers while Niklas Hjalmarsson has two assists. Marian Hossa has even chipped in with a goal and a helper.
As far as goaltending goes, nothing needs to change for the Blackhawks. With his 33-save performance in Game 3, Corey Crawford was arguably Chicago’s best player and quite frankly, could not have played any better. But he needs more support particularly when it comes to solve the other netminder as Tuukka Rask who stopped all 28 shots he faced Monday night to lead Boston to victory – but not before frustrating the Chicago attack.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins continue the Stanley Cup Final tonight and while it may seem as though one team has a significant advantage over the other, this series is, whether you’d like to believe it or not, far from over.