I lack cable and have to wait until dark to hold my clock radio up to the window in order to get bits and snatches of WGN, whose signal is directionally pointed East. Last night the interference was especially bad. It appears that I was lucky.
From what I made out from Troy Murray, our play was lackidasical and complacent. Sounds familiar. This team seems to need pressure to play at their best. Well, they sure have pressure now- though I don't think they'll respond to it fully until Game 5 in Chicago.
But they'd better. I know all about the Detroit series, and I've praised this team for its heart over and over. But this is not Detroit we're playing, and if we don't win tomorrow night in Boston, I think we're pretty much done.
Which I will especially hate, because most Bruin fans and the Boston media generally are making even the folks in Philly look like good sports.
In fairness to both the Hawks and the Bruins, it's not just a matter of our not playing up to par. This is a pretty damned good defensive team we're playing. They've been blocking as many shots as we've gotten on goal! And Rask is reminding me of Ken Dryden back in '71. Give credit where credit is due; it's not just that the Hawks are screwing up. Boston is doing an awful lot of things awfully well.
While it's still too early to be looking forward to next year- barely- Bowman has to deal with slot presence as his number one priority. That and play design, which- as Mike Milbury (whom I greatly respect, btw) keeps pointing out, has sucked for the Hawks this series. There is no excuse for forming up your power play backwards! And then, there's execution. They're just not getting it done even when they don't mess up in some obvious way.
The power play is composed of a great many component parts. Slot presence will help. Better play design and execution will help. We need somehow to land the personnel to get more physical without losing skill. Something tells me this is not the last time we'll see Boston in the playoffs. The Hawks will be going deep into the playoffs for years to come, if they don't totally fall apart after this disappointment and lose their mojo or start making stupid personnel moves. We have to gear up to face Rask and this same bunch next year.
I have a hunch Boston may even become our new nemesis.
But I get ahead of myself. A victory tomorrow night would turn the whole series around. A defeat is certain to energize this team. I think they'll be energized to some extent tomorrow night, and play much better than they did last night. For sure they;ll be at the top of their game when they get back home.
But while I wouldn't pull it past them to have two miracles like they pulled off against the Octopus Boys up their sleeve, I don't see it happening against Boston. They're just too good.
Everybody sold them short. And despite the heart of this Blackhawks team, they seem to have an awfully tough time getting it through their heads that just because they had the best start in league history and won the President's Trophy doesn't mean that they can cruise through the playoffs.
Every game in this series will be decided by which team wants it more. And right now, it looks like that team is Boston.