They didn’t play their best, but they played far from their worst, trailing just 1-0 after two periods.
“They are at the top of the league for a reason; they’ve got a lot of weapons,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “[Sergei Bobrovsky] was strong in net, and [the] defense was pretty good.”
In other words, measuring up to the Flyers isn’t easy and the Hawks mostly came up short because they failed to capitalize early in the game when they owned an edge in play.
“They scored first,” Quenneville said. “We had a good start to the game and did a lot of good things, but that was the important goal.”
After that score, the Blackhawks stopped going to the net and tried to get fancy on offense instead of staying gritty.
“In more ways than one, we were too easy to defend,” Jonathan Toews said. “We weren’t on the same page with each other and that made it harder to be predictable, especially in the offensive zone when it’s time to capitalize on some of our chances.”
It might have been an easier loss to swallow if the Hawks had played poorly from start to finish -- chalk it up to a lackluster effort on a day where the city’s sports focus was at Soldier Field’s NFC Championship Game.
But the loss really shows how far the Hawks have fallen from last year’s title team and how much better the Flyers have become.
“It’s depth they’ve lost,” Chris Pronger said. “They’ve just filled it with some younger guys.”
A season ago, it was Chicago flying high into the playoffs, one point from the No. 1 seed, while Philadelphia didn’t find its legs until the postseason.
The roles are reversed, now, and the Hawks are certainly hoping to pull things together by the playoffs. But that’s where they undoubtedly want the similarities to end. Philadelphia didn’t make the playoffs until the final day of the regular season.
The Hawks are hoping they won’t have to wait that long -- but their season-long inconsistent play might say differently.
Troy Brouwer led the Hawks with six hits and ranks fifth in the league with 162.
Marian Hossa’s successful penalty shot was the first at home since Dec. 30, 1987 and the first-ever scored by a Hawk at the United Center.