Updated: July 19, 2013 6:25AM
BOSTON – The night started with the news that Marian Hossa was out with an injury. This being the ultra-secretive NHL, we’ll probably find out what that injury is during the next lockout.
From there, things went downhill on an icy slope for the Blackhawks, who looked overmatched in a terrible 2-0 loss in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. If they keep this up, they’ll be watching the Bruins celebrate a title on the United Center ice very soon.
The most glaring problem Monday was, again, the Hawks’ power play, which seems more interested in doing acoustic sets. I’ve never seen a great team so disjointed in this regard. It’s as if the Hawks are skating into the poppy fields in the “The Wizard of Oz.’’
They put one shot on net as their first power play of the night ended and then went back to sleep. It was an illustration, done with sloppy finger painting, of why they’re down 2-1 in this series.
They were 0-for-5 on the power play Monday, making them seven-for-62 in the playoffs. You almost have to try to be that bad.
“We’ve got to work together,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. “Guys without the puck maybe aren’t supporting the guy with the puck well enough. We’re just kind of watching him.’’
On the Hawks’ second power play, defenseman Duncan Keith had a tremendous opportunity close in on Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask but chose to leave a pass at the goalmouth for Toews, who couldn’t get his stick on the puck. In the purest sense, you say to yourself, what an unselfish teammate! Players are brought up to be self-sacrificing, which happens to be the curse of hockey as well. Too often with the Hawks, you say to yourself, shoot the flipping puck!
I don’t think a healthy Hossa would have made a difference Monday. That’s how bad his team was. But losing him right before the game certainly was a cruel twist. The Hawks say they weren’t psychologically jarred by the news.
“We’re grown men,’’ Keith said. “We’re not going to worry about that.’’
But for a team that prides itself on depth, the Hawks sure looked discombobulated by Hossa’s absence. Their lines were a mess. They couldn’t get anything going. Whatever deftness Hawks coach Joel Quenneville had shown throughout the playoffs, whatever magic touch he had displayed, deserted him Monday night. He shouldn’t feel too bad. He had company.
Has anybody seen Bryan Bickell, previously the offensive star of these playoffs? Unfortunately, I did see Dave Bolland in the second period. He failed to clear the puck in a battle with Paille while the Bruins were applying intense pressure in the Hawks’ zone. Paille beat Crawford to make it 1-0. By the time the game was over, Bolland would add three penalties to his resume.
At that point, the amazing part was that score. It should have been much more in favor of the Bruins, just as the first period of Game 2 should have been a 3-0 Hawks lead instead of a 1-0 version.
The difference Monday night was that, unlike the Blackhawks in Game 2, Boston kept up the pressure and the Hawks were out of position again and again, leading to bad penalties. With Niklas Hjalmarsson in the penalty box for tripping, the Bruins took quick advantage, doing all the things on the power play the Hawks haven’t in the postseason. A Jaromir Jagr pass through traffic to Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins up 2-0 lead. It felt like 10-0 at that point.
People have been wondering where Toews is. I know: wherever David Krejci is. Krejci was on him like bad aftershave all night. Toews needs to find a way. He’s playing as hard as ever but not showing up on the scoring summary. For the Hawks to win this Cup, he has to be a leader on offense.
But it’s not all on him. The Hawks have to find a way too.
“We had chances,’’ Keith said. “It just comes down to a couple little plays, whether it’s a one-on-one and you get beat. It’s just a fine line.’’
The Bruins won 40 of 56 face-offs Monday. The Hawks’ Michal Handzus went 0-for-10, which is hard to do. But not so hard on a night when nothing went right.
A skirmish broke out in the final seconds of the game. I’m sure the Hawks wanted to show their competitive fight. About two and a half hours too late, fellas.