Puck play dooms Hawks in Game 5
"We couldn’t make, I guess I’ll say, a 10-foot pass all night." -- Joel Quenneville after the 4-1 loss in Game 5
CHICAGO -- That statement said it all. The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t play downright awful but they didn’t play the way a team trying to send its opponent home for the summer should play.
It was the little things that came back to haunt them, starting with faceoffs and other fundamentals.
The Hawks lost 58 percent of their faceoffs, including a critical one by Dave Bolland in the first minute of the game that led to a Christian Ehrhoff goal. Bolland won only two of 13 draws all night. That wasn’t the only problem.
"We got zapped right off the bat with what went on, and we didn’t respond right after that," Quenneville said. "We had some excitement in the building we didn’t take advantage of, and we were on the receiving end.
"I think we were looking for a little bit more than was out there. We were looking for pretty plays instead of simplicity."
We’ve heard that before. In the Nashville series and at different times during the season when the Hawks didn’t put forth the kind of effort they usually do. They got cute instead of working hard.
"We didn’t control the game the way we wanted to," Jonathan Toews said. "When you work hard and doing everything right, you get bounces and pucks find you, but we didn’t do that tonight."
Give some credit to the Canucks. They didn’t get to over 100 points in the regular season by taking bad penalties every night. They played disciplined and adjusted their game to slow down the Hawks.
"They made a few changes," John Madden said. "A few neutral zone changes. We were sitting back. Not initiating like we normally do."
"We were a step behind all night," Brian Campbell said. "Too much one on one play."
In some ways this game was reminiscent of Game 3 last postseason against Vancouver. After two wild affairs in Vancouver, the Canucks shut down their skating attack and played a more defensive style. It stymied the Hawks for one game -- until they were able to make adjustments.
This isn’t that different. The Hawks just completed two games in Vancouver with an attacking style that drew power plays but now were forced into more of a slow down. Remember what Campbell said: "We were a step behind all night."
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault pushed the right buttons in Game 5, now it's Quenneville’s turn to respond.