PHILADELPHIA -- There was so much nostalgia heading into the Chicago Blackhawks game against the Philadelphia Flyers it was only appropriate that the Hawks played liked they did in the Stanley Cup finals in 2010.
But they played more like Game 3 and 4 instead of their Game 6 clincher.
“Brutal, brutal loss,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the 5-4 defeat. “Reminds me of the game we were here last time. Very similar way to lose.”
Quenneville is talking about a previous regular season game the Hawks lost late just as they did on Thursday when James Van Riemsdyk tallied a power-play score with 32 seconds remaining.
But he could have been talking about how they lost in Game 4 of the finals in June 2010. The Flyers spent an inordinate amount of time in the Hawks' zone inundating goalie Antti Niemi. The same happened throughout the game on Thursday, this time to Ray Emery.
“We’re just not stopping them in those dangerous areas,” Jonathan Toews said of defensive zone coverage. “We’re just swooping through hoping to get offensive breaks to go the other way on odd-man rushes. We’re just swinging through areas and not stopping.”
The result was a season-high 46 shots against. And many came in the form of second chance opportunities.
“If you’re lazy you’re going to miss pucks, and they’re going to get extra chances,” Toews said.
Forget the comeback the Hawks nearly pulled off. Down 4-2 late, they scored two goals -- one by a slumping Patrick Kane -- before Kane took a crucial penalty with a high-stick.
We already know the Hawks have enough offensive firepower but can they stop teams enough to win a championship?
“Second opportunities is what we had to be better at,” Quenneville said.
There was no pair of defensemen spared from the onslaught. Nick Leddy and Niklas Hjalmarsson were both minus-2 and while Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were plus-2, both were on the ice for the winning power-play goal against and one other Philadelphia score. Sean O’Donnell and Dylan Olsen were scored upon as well.
But it was Leddy and Hjalmarsson who faltered the most in their own zone.
“I probably could have eliminated the turnovers and the mistakes,” Leddy said. “I have to be better defensively.”
He wasn’t and overall the Hawks weren’t.
In 2010, they were able to overcome a bad matchup with Philadelphia because when the Flyers impose their will in the Hawks zone, they can dominate. They did it then and they did again Thursday. Are the Hawks good enough to overcome as they did that season?
On Thursday, they weren’t.