It’s Stanley Cup Finals time and we have a series on our hands Blackhawks fans.  In preview of Game 4 I wanted to get a few items broadcast into the web-o-sphere in hopes to in some way help the team and more importantly to allow me to vent in a manner that does no physical damage to our personal property in the family room. Without further ado…

  • I want to be very clear on this point – the Blackhawks are beating themselves more than Boston is.  I stated in a post a few months ago that the only team that can beat Chicago is the Blackhawks and that’s exactly what’s happening right now.  I don’t know that I’m ready to go all the way and call for Coach Quenneville’s job just yet but he is getting worked like a speed bag by most of the opposing bench bosses the Blackhawks have faced.  I keep coming back to the point that the Blackhawks were the President’s Trophy winners (awarded to the team with the most points in the regular season) and the #1 seed coming into the playoffs.  Why they are the first team in each series to overreact at the first sign of trouble by reshuffling their lines and screwing with their chemistry.  Shouldn’t the opponents be adjusting to play the Hawks, not the other way around?  Can any Blackhawk name with confidence just one guy they know they will be skating with in Game 4?  This absolutely baffles and frustrates me to no end.
  • As an extension of the point above, what the hell is with the random Viktor Stalberg benchings?  After the Hawks handled the Minnesota Wild fairly handily in the first round, Coach Q decided the beginning of the Detroit series would be a good time to send a pointless message by benching Stalberg for the first two games.  Did Stalberg have a great series versus the Wild?  No particularly, but I think it would be a fairly shaky argument to say that he was the worst Blackhawk or a particular liability on the ice during those first five games.  Needless to say when he returned in Game 3 vs. Detroit he played an inspired game and the Hawks eventually came back from a 3-1 deficit with him in the lineup.  He then played all five games against the Kings, only to find himself in the press box for Games 1 & 2 of the Finals.  Again, Viktor Stalberg is not going to be a particular difference maker for this team over the next four games, and he very well may not be a Blackhawk a month from now, but he certainly is not the problem and he’s a hell of a lot better than the alternatives they’ve been replacing him with.  I could understand Coach Q going with Brandon Bollig in Game 1 if he though Boston was going to make this series as physical as possible, but by the end of the 3rd overtime he had to be realizing that it just wasn’t going to be that kind of series and the Blackhawks advantage is in putting more talent on the ice than Boston can.  Call me crazy but I’ve got a feeling that Mr. Stalberg still has a big play or two left in him this series and I don’t want anyone to forget that our head coach appears to believe just about anyone off the street can provide equal value to him.
  • The Blackhawks power play is a frickin’ embarrassment.  They can’t even get the puck in the zone, let alone get setup and generate shots with the man advantage.  There is absolutely no reason that Bryan Bickell does not start getting his mail delivered to the crease in Boston’s zone when the Hawks power play unit is on the ice.  Using Andrew Shaw in that role (camping out in from of the net to provide traffic and generate tips and rebounds) is a complete misuse of his skill set.  Additionally, it appears the Hawks two options to get the puck into the zone revolve around Kane or Leddy building up a head of steam through the neutral zone and stickhandling their way in until someone steals the puck from them – or – the puck carrier brings the puck up to the blue line, waits for the other four Hawks to come to a complete stop, and them dump the puck into the far corner.  If you’re going to use the dump and chase method, in order for it to be successful it needs to happen with the Hawks can send two forecheckers, with a head of steam, into the corner to win the battle for the puck.  If everyone comes to a complete stop I can assure you they will lose every one of those races.  Wasn’t the whole point of the Jamie Kompton hiring last summer from the Kings done with the intent to fix the anemic power play on this team?  What exactly is he getting paid for currently?
  • Corey Crawford is not the problem.  This is probably as well as he’s played in his professional career in fact.  That doesn’t excuse the number of bobbles and slight misplays in his game however. If he lets another puck hit the side of his glove, or he mishandles another puck at the edge of the trapezoid behind the net I’m going to have a full on conniption.
  • Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – it’s time.  If you guys want to be thought of amongst the league’s elite then you’ve got up to four games to do it.  I don’t care what you’ve done in the playoffs to date – now is your time to shine.  We’re waiting.
  • The Marian Hossa injury which knocked him out of Game 3 was strange no doubt.  All I can assume is that it had to do with his head and a potential concussion because nothing else could possibly have been that painful to keep him from playing in a Finals game.  After the Raffi Torres hit last spring – and the subsequent eight month recovery, I think Hossa is on extra high alert on anything head injury related.  Regardless of the reason, I absolutely could care less what Tony Amonte thinks about the situation.
  • For the record I’m fairly convinced that Boston’s Nathan Horton (shoulder) and Zdeno Chara (?) are pretty seriously dinged up as well.  Horton’s shoulder knocked him out of the overtime sessions of Game 1 and Chara just hasn’t been the normal factor in the games that he normally is.  The Blackhawks are lucky that that 108mph slapshot has been kept in the can all series. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcieIx6_ArQ

  • I was pretty confident that the Blackhawks were going to lose Game 3 regardless.  That first home game for the lower seed in any series, but particularly the Finals, brings with it so much energy and excitement from the opposing crowd, it really is difficult for the visiting team to withstand.  Thus the Blackhawks 0-4 record in Game 3s in these playoffs.  Now I didn’t expect the Blackhawks to play as poorly as they did despite the predicted outcome.  With that said I think the Blackhawks come roaring back and win Game 4 in Boston bringing the series back to Chicago tied 2-2.  Mark it down.  Call it a lock.  Do whatever you need to do, because the Blackhawks sure as hell better be taking that mindset as well or there isn’t going to be much more of a season to preview.