MORRISSEY: Stunning ineptitude on power play could cost the Hawks the Cup
June 16, 2013 12:18AM
Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw, right, celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the third overtime period of Game 1 in their NHL Stanley Cup Final hockey series against the Boston Bruins, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
at Hawks 4
Bruins (3OT) 3
at Hawks (OT) 1GAME 3
7 p.m. Monday
at Bruins, NBCSN
7 p.m. Wednesday
at Bruins, Ch. 5
7 p.m. Saturday
at Hawks, Ch. 5
GAME 6 if necessary
7 p.m. June 24
at Bruins, Ch. 5
GAME 7 if necessary
7 p.m. June 26
at Hawks, Ch. 5
Updated: August 15, 2013 2:41AM
It might be that I’m quibbling here. The Blackhawks could end up winning the Stanley Cup with a power play not even a blind, orphaned mutt could love.
But I don’t think so.
I think having a man advantage should be, oh, I don’t know, an advantage. And thus it should follow that not being able to take advantage on the power play should be a real deterrent to hoisting the Cup.
The Hawks lost 2-1 in overtime Saturday night when Boston’s Daniel Paille beat Corey Crawford with a wrist shot, tying the series at a game apiece. But their own ineptness beat them just as much.
The Hawks were 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 2, went 0-for-6 in the first two games of the series and have gone 0-for-15 on their last 15 power plays. I believe that would be called a “trend.’’
What’s the problem?
“That’s a good question,’’ right wing Patrick Sharp said. “We thought we had some better puck-possession time. We got a few pucks to the net, but we certainly need to find a way to put one in.’’
The company line for the Hawks and the Bruins early in this series has been that their power-play struggles can be attributed to the fact that the opponent is pretty darn good at killing penalties. That might be part of the explanation, but a man advantage shouldn’t cause their sticks to become petrified wood.
The Hawks’ problem isn’t that Boston is so effective on the kill. It’s that sometimes — no, a lot of times — it looks as if they’re learning how to set up a power play for the first time. At times, it looked as if they were afraid to get the puck over the blue line, lest they be electrocuted. Shouldn’t they be past the remedial stuff?
In theory, a Boston penalty was a good thing for the Hawks. In practice . . . well, yes, the Hawks might want to practice a little more. Here’s a suggestion: Any time Patrick Kane has the puck is a good thing. Start there. Opponents are freaked whenever he’s wheeling and dealing. Let the power play go through him. But if I could dole out just one bit of advice, it would be: Shoot the puck! You’re not going to score unless you do, the Sun-Times has learned.
“The more we keep it simple, the more we put pucks on the net, it’s more chances we’re going to get,’’ center Dave Bolland said.
Coach Joel Quenneville said he liked the Hawks’ first power play but that they “lost a little momentum’’ on the other two. By “momentum’’ I believe he means they forgot to skate.
This game was Fast & Furious 2. The original was a three-overtime thriller the Hawks won 4-3 Wednesday. You might not have been able to sense it on the power play in Game 2, but both teams played desperately. The Hawks outshot the Bruins. The Bruins outhit the Hawks. Both goalies were excellent again.
The Hawks’ first-period goal wasn’t what you’d call a thing of beauty. It was more like a lump of clay. Kane had slipped in and gotten off a backhander that Tuukka Rask stopped. What came after was a wild scrum in front of the net. Michal Handzus was there with several Bruins. After much hacking, the puck skittered out to Sharp. His shot beat Rask, who was dealing with rush-hour traffic.
The Hawks outshot the Bruins 19-4 in the first period, which was a very good indication of how they dominated. But a 1-0 lead didn’t reflect that. A one-goal lead in hockey is about as comfortable as a hair shirt.
The Bruins tied the game 1-1 in the second period when Paille got the puck behind the Hawks’ net, relieved defenseman Nick Leddy of his equilibrium, if not his jockstrap, with some nifty stickhandling and wrapped it around on Crawford. Boston’s Chris Kelly got his stick on the puck and ended up with the goal.
And that was it for regulation, another tight three periods. It’s pretty safe to say that’s how this series is going to be. Two great teams with very skilled players battling until the bitter end. Nobody wants to give any ground. Nobody wants to make a mistake. But it happens. The Hawks couldn’t clear the puck, and Paille took advantage on his game-winner.
The Bruins were so dominant in overtime, it looked at times as if they were on the power play.
And as we’re learning in this series, nobody wants one of those.