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The Blackhawks have their backs to the wall. Good.

Now, don't misunderstand this. I'm very far from giving up.

The Blackhawks are a team that is at its best when its back is to the wall. Last year they came back from a three games to one deficit to defeat a very good Red Wings team, and they are more than capable of doing the same with the L.A. Kings. There is nothing that makes my Hawks more dangerous than a game in which they face elimination. And they certainly should win tonight at home.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm nervous. And the last three games have once again given rise to my concerns about Corey Crawford, a merely good (and not great) goalie who is very inconsistent and, despite the loyalty of his teammates, is the weak link on an otherwise formidable team.

If the Hawks are eliminated, I'll be spending an anxious summer hoping that Stan Bowman does something about that weakness. A number of quality goalies should be available; Antti Niemi might even be available for a second stint in Chicago. But frankly, I have a bad feeling that, having won the Cup last year and experienced some success this year with Crow, Bowman will stand pat- dooming the Hawks to yet another wasted era in which the reluctance of management to do what needs to be done squanders a talented team that could have been a dominant one.

Maybe that's just residual cynicism from the Bill Wirtz/Bob Pulford era. I hope so. But even more, I hope the Hawks get their heads and hearts into the game and do the same thing to L.A. this year they did to Detroit last year.

Otherwise it's going to be a New York- Los Angeles final, and next year's crusade will be to bring the Stanley Cup back to America.

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