Take a deep breath Hawks fans.  Keep your Jump To Conclusions Mat tucked away in your closet a little longer.  Yes the Hawks are down two games to one at this point in their best of seven series with Detroit but all hope is not lost. 

In many ways Game 1 was a false positive.  The Hawks played like a flock of sea gulls hovering over a bait ball – attacking from a variety of angles, striking and circling back with their bellies full.  It was a thing of beauty to watch resulting in a media swarm where quotes like WSCR’s Dan McNeil’s, “The Blackhawks are the hammer and the Red Wings are the nail” and openly questioning whether the Red Wings belong in the same league as them were common place the following morning. 

I don’t buy the story that the Red Wings were fatigued from their seven game battle with Anaheim in Round 1.  They had three days off after they dispatched the Ducks and three days is pretty much the ideal rest period in hockey as any longer and rust begins to show.  What I think really happened was the Red Wings were unprepared for the speed and style of the Hawks, a complete contrast to the grind it out style they just adapted to out west, and the Hawks took advantage.  By the time Game 2 rolled around the Red Wings had made their adjustments while the Blackhawks appeared to still be reading the headlines from Game 1. 

As Game 3 rolled around on Monday both teams had felt each other out and the series began in earnest.  With the game back in Detroit it meant that Karen Newman was in full effect and Al Sobotka was doing his thing, so the Red Wings used the momentum a home crowd can offer to their advantage.  Truth be told I think the Blackhawks were the better team on Monday night but Detroit’s two goals in 31 seconds in the middle of the second proved to be too much to handle. 

I am in full agreement that Andrew Shaw’s goaltender interference call was a farce.  A very valid argument can be made that had it been counted then it would have been a completely different game were it tied 2-2, and Datsyuk most likely would not have been on the odd man rush that led to Detroit’s third goal.  That’s all behind us now though. 

My stance is that the Blackhawks are still the superior team and they’ve seen the best Detroit has to offer.  For all the chatter about the disappearance of Jonathan Toews from the score sheet, cannot the same be said for the invisibility of Henrik Zetterberg in this series?  For every time the Hawks are maligned for fluctuating between Daniel Carcillo and Viktor Stalberg I think it bears noting that the Red Wings are regularly dressing Cory Emmerton, Carlo Colaiacovo, and Brian Lashoff.  If your response to those names is a squinted who? you’re not alone. 

My point is that everyone, the Hawks included, appear to be far too worried about what they’re not doing, who they’re not dressing, and everything else that is going wrong.  In the words of Don Draper it’s time for them to change the conversation.  The Hawks are currently a perfect 26 of 26 on the penalty kill in these playoffs.  When Detroit creates their “super line” of Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Abdelkader to neutralize the Hossa-Toews-Saad line the Hawks need to realize that even if those lines play to a draw it leaves the Hawks with a very distinct advantage when lines 2 thru 4 are on the ice. 

The Hawks are the #1 seed and they need to play like it.  Detroit should be scared of making a mistake every time they have the puck because the Hawks are that team who will pounce and capitalize on every error.  Brendan Smith appears to be one turnover away from his pool of confidence being completely drained. 

From the outset I pick this series to go six games with the Hawks moving on to the Western Conference Championship.  I stand by that pick today.  Yes I’d like to see the first line begin producing again, the defense being shored up, and Crawford playing more assertively (far too many rebounds and pucks going off the side of his glove or rolling away from his control) but these are all confidence matters more so than skill related.

I think they come out with a fury we’ve only seen twice thus far in the playoffs (Game 2 vs Minnesota and Game 1 vs Detroit) and the series heads back to Chicago a best of three affair with the Hawks still having home ice advantage.  It’s time for the Blackhawks to start playing like the team they are – a.k.a. best team in the NHL.  For their pre-game meeting on Thursday evening I suggest Coach Q digs deep into his Simpson’s vault to quote Troy McClure in telling the team to “Get confident, stupid”, because if they don’t then there’s a real cause for concern.