Series can shift on one goal and it’s up to Hawks to do it
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 22, 2013 10:58PM
Updated: June 24, 2013 2:08PM
Though the 2010 Stanley Cup championship still resonates for Blackhawks fans, it’s old news to the Blackhawks. But it’s an undeniable point-of-reference with the Hawks on the brink of being on the brink against the Red Wings.
With the core of stars from that Cup-winning team intact, the question looms now more than ever, with the Blackhawks trailing 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal series heading into Thursday night’s game at Joe Louis Arena: Does this team have that intangible that propelled the Hawks to play their best when they needed to most in 2010?
‘‘Each round you play, there’s probably a defining moment that got you over the hump or turned it in your favor, whether you captured the momentum or sealed the momentum,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said.
The Hawks were in a similar bind as they are today when Quenneville’s defining moment ocurred in 2010. With their opening-round series against the Nashville Predators tied 2-2, the Hawks were seconds away from losing at the United Center and facing an elimination game in Nashville, when Patrick Kane scored a short-handed goal to tie the game with 14 seconds left in the third period. They won in overtime, when Marian Hossa came out of the penalty box after serving a five-minute major to score the winning goal.
‘‘To me, it was a defining moment for that round and all of the sudden, it seemed like we took off at that point,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘That momentum and excitement, you can gain a lot as a team and whether it’s confidence — you feel it.
‘‘And the guys rally around a certain thing, but you progress as you go along and that momentum and excitement can be huge. When you look at the past and why you won or didn’t win, it’s always a defining moment that got you going in the right direction.’’
The Hawks don’t need a finish as fortuitious as that memorable narrow escape tonight against the Wings. Better results from the same effort they gave in Game 3 would be enough to turn the momentum back in their favor. But the overall degree of difficulty is higher here. The Red Wings, though seeded seventh, are a better team than the Predators were in 2010. And they’ll be at home.
The Hawks don’t look at history for inspiration. They’re hockey players. Inspiration comes from within. Every challenge is nothing more than the next one. Jonathan Toews, who achieved his greatest glory during the 2010 run to the Stanley Cup, speaks about that team as if he was not even on it.
‘‘The 2010 team didn’t really know what was ahead of them,’’ Toews said at the beginning of the postseason. ‘‘I think they just took it one game at a time. We’ve got to just try and get through every series.’’
Ultimately, that’s what hockey is all about these days. There’s a reason why nine different teams have won the last nine Stanley Cups (In a bygone era, 10 different teams won the Cup from 1975-2003). The game is about creating more opportunities for the puck to bounce your way. Look how Game 3 turned after the Red Wings scored (they scored again 31 seconds later) and then how it turned the other way when the Hawks scored (they scored again 1:07 later, but had the goal overturned). If not for a referee’s decision, it’s likely Wings would be facing a must-win game tonight. And you couldn’t fault either team’s effort. The same Blackhawks effort that netted a 3-1 loss in Game 3 could yield a 3-1 win tonight. That’s hockey.
So the Hawks will search for their defining moment of 2013 the only way they know how — by playing hard and hoping the hockey gods are on their side. To them, 2010 was a memory. And to some, not even that.
‘‘I can’t even remember that far [back],’’ Duncan Keith said. ‘‘It’s just living in the moment and competing and knowing that we just need to win one game and that starts by having a good first five minutes and going from there.’’