The Blackhawks have looked very bad over the last 120 minutes of hockey. Since the first period of Game 2, the Hawks have not looked anything like the team we have seen all season.
After not being shutout at all the regular season the Hawks suffered their second shutout of the postseason on Monday, falling 2-0 to the Boston Bruins. The first shutout came against Detroit, which is interesting because that is the last time Chicago trailed in a series.
With the loss, Boston now leads the series 2-1 and are just two games away from hoisting the cup with two games remaining on home ice. That last point is why Game 4 is so important.
I am not going to talk about the Hossa injury. There is a whole article devoted to it on the site. You can find it here.
Chicago just looked plan bad. The power play remains awful. They could not win faceoffs. Boston won 40 compared to the Hawks 16. Michael Handzus went 0-10 while Dave Bolland went 1-8. That's 1 for 18 from two of their main centerman.
The most confusing thing of all were the lines.
Jonanthan Toews started the game and spent a lot of time with Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. No offense to Kruger and Frolik but they are fourth liners 10-14 minutes a night. Not really guys who are normally paired up with Toews who sees 18-20 minutes a night.
Toews only saw a few minutes with Patrick Kane and most of that came on the power play and late in the game. Can't really say I understand the coaches thinking by not playing the two together after how they ended the Kings series.
Instead Kane spent most of the night being centered by Handzus and having Brandon Saad on the opposite wing. My feelings have been made very clear on Handzus, he belongs on the fourth line or come out for faceoffs and then leave. With his play Monday, he might not even be worth playing.
Maybe it's just me but I'm not a big fan of Saad and Kane being paired together. Just seems a little too much of the same to me. Saad may eventually get bigger and learn to throw his weight around, but he can't yet and Kane needs someone who can do that across the ice.
Poor Patrick Sharp, I don't think he has any idea who he is skating with from shift to shift. Bolland and Bickell. Shaw and Stalberg. Kane and Handzus. At least with Handzus and Bolland struggling they let him take some faceoffs. He won 3 of 5.
The Blackhawks have to stop playing so tight. They have to stop looking for the pretty or perfect play. They need to get dirty. They need to shoot the puck.
Nothing bad can ever happen to you when you put the puck on the opposing teams net. But as we have seen plenty bad can happen when you don't.
The Bruins penalty kill had more and better scoring chances than the Hawks power play unit. It is amazing they didn't give up another shorthanded goal.
Story lines to watch leading up to Game 4. Will there be any punishment handed down for the fighting towards the end of the game? Will Hossa play and if so how effective will he be? Will Toews & Kane be reunited?
With each lose and as long as the power play continues to struggle the questions will continue to mount for the Blackhawks. If they don't start finding some answers soon, this series might be over sooner then anyone thought.