Things seem to be going Hawks’ way, but that doesn’t always matter
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 28, 2013 9:32PM
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) is congratulated by Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Sharp (10) after beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 after Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Detroit, Monday, May 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: June 30, 2013 6:41AM
The Blackhawks have momentum, confidence and home-ice
advantage heading into Game 7 of their Western Conference semi-=
final series Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Not that any of that matters. The Hawks have squandered all three of those things during the course of this series. Even having captain Jonathan Toews, one of the best trump cards in hockey, is no sure thing. The only time Toews played in a Game 7 as a professional, the Hawks lost to the Vancouver
Canucks 2-1 in overtime in the first round of the playoffs in 2011. Toews felt pretty confident going into that game, too.
‘‘I remember winning three games in a row [after being down 3-0 in the series] and just the feeling of invincibility,’’ said Toews, who scored a short-handed goal with 1:56 left to send that game into overtime. ‘‘I think maybe this time we know it’s one thing to carry that momentum and ride it into a
Game 7, but that other team is
going to come back with everything they’ve got, too. So we have to be ready for that. We know it’s going to be a good one.’’
A month into the playoffs, the Hawks are playing more like the team that won the Presidents’
Trophy during the regular season — and, for what it’s worth, sounding like it, too.
‘‘I’m not worried about if we have anything to lose or anything like that; I’m just worried about winning the game,’’ defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. ‘‘It’s all we’re thinking about in here. We’re just excited to play [Wednesday].’’
If anybody should be feeling the pressure, it’s goalie Corey Crawford, who recovered from allowing a soft goal in the second period of Game 6 on Monday to be one of the Hawks’ heroes. But Game 7s often are defining for goalies.
‘‘Do or die? It’s Game 7,’’ said Crawford, who is 6-2 in elimination games in his career. ‘‘I’m just looking to go out there and win a game. We’re going to look at it as more fun. We’re playing with confidence. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be exciting.’’
On paper, the Hawks appear to have everything on their side. The bad news is that they haven’t handled prosperity well. It wasn’t until they were 20 minutes from elimination that they had their most productive period of the series.
‘‘When we were down 3-1 [in the series], we sat in the room and just said we can believe in each other,’’ said winger Michael Frolik, whose goal on a penalty shot proved to be the difference in Game 6. ‘‘We said, ‘We’ve done this in the past. We can come back.’ I think that was a good mind-set to believe in each other. And here we are now in Game 7, and we believe even more that we can finish it off.’’