Blackhawks: Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are at a crossroads heading into Wednesday's Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins. Down 2-1 in the series, all is not lost for the Hawks, but in some ways it seems like it is.
Unable to score a goal in Game 3, unable to win a faceoff and unable to simply look professional on the power play, the Hawks looked completely out of sync. The Bruins undoubtedly had something to do with that, as did the last-minute loss of star forward Marian Hossa. The Bruins have slowly taken control of the series over the past two games. They've gotten better while the Hawks have gotten worse.
"We're in a tough spot," coach Joel Quenneville said in Boston on Tuesday. "In the Detroit series, we found a way to get ourselves to get back into it. That's what we're looking for."
Roughly 13 periods into the Stanley Cup finals between Kane's Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins, and the Hawks have managed just five goals. They trail in the series 2-1 after being blanked 2-0 on Monday night. Game 4 is Wednesday.
Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa (who was injured and did not play in Game 3), Bryan Bickell and Kane are all without a goal.
It is easy to say, then, that for the Hawks to reassert themselves in this series, those players must produce.
What makes the issue more complex and perhaps in the end more compelling is that those players -- specifically Kane -- must find a way to solve the puzzle that is the Bruins' defense.
Read the entire story.
BOSTON -- Joel Quenneville held off judgment of Dave Bolland's performance in Game 3 on the Stanley Cup finals on Monday, but a day later the Chicago Blackhawks coach said he expects more from Bolland.
Bolland was whistled for a game-high three penalties, was robbed of the puck in the Blackhawks' zone to set up the Bruins' first goal, won 1-of-8 faceoffs, had one just hit and had a minus-2 rating in the Blackhawks' 2-0 loss on Monday.
"Yeah, one of those nights, rough night," Quenneville said at TD Garden on Tuesday. "Certainly can't take three (penalties). I think you've got to be smarter about it when you do take one, that maybe you put yourself in that spot again. Let's make sure we learn from that."
Bolland had trouble staying out of the penalty box early in the playoffs when he had three multi-penalty games against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals, but he had since limited those trips. He was called for two penalties in the last nine games leading up to Game 3 on Monday.
Bolland, who didn't speak to reporters after the game, wasn't sure why he committed three penalties in Game 3 when he spoke with the media on Tuesday.
"Maybe could have been too aggressive," Bolland said. "It's a fast game. You're always moving your feet. You're always trying to get pucks off guys. It's the way things go."
Bolland's Game 3 struggles came after he played his best game of the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. He had a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks' 4-3 triple-overtime win over the Bruins in Game 1. It was Bolland's first goal and first multi-point game of the playoffs.
Bolland believes the key to improving his play in Game 4 on Wednesday is being better with his puck possession.
"I think I have to bring a lot more in Game 4, for sure," Bolland said. "I think for myself bringing that puck to the net. What I do with that puck down low is the main thing. It's just not throwing the puck away and just throwing it in front of the net. I think we have that confidence down low, and we have to take the puck to the net."
Olczyk said during Monday's broadcast that Hossa was hit by a puck in pregame warmups, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said nothing happened during warmups. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews added to the confusion after the game when he said the team wasn't surprised to learn just before game time that Hossa wouldn't play.
The Hawks turned to Ben Smith, who didn't warm up, to take Hossa's spot just minutes before game time.
"There's all this speculation, the quotes that guys knew there was a chance he wasn't going to play, but I've been around the block a few times, I don't know how you can buy into that with the aspect of knowing that if there was a chance that (Hossa) wasn't going to play you had Sheldon Brookbank and Brandon Bollig taking warmups and then neither one of those guys dresses for the game," Olczyk said Tuesday on "The Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000.
"To me it was one of those 'OK, we've got to do something right now. We've got to figure this thing out now.' We're not going to find out a lot. Players on both teams right now are taped together just getting out there to play and with Hossa being out, taking warmup and then not playing the game ... to think that the Blackhawks had an idea that he might not play and then all of a sudden play a guy who didn't take warmups that just doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense."
Toews said playing without Hossa was "something we were prepared for all day, that he might not play."
"It happens sometimes. You're missing one of your best players and you've got to find a way to play without him. We always say it's an opportunity for the guys to step up. The guys that got more ice time (Monday night) played well. We've just got to find a way to win."
Quenneville said after the game that Hossa has an upper-body injury, and he is hopeful Hossa will be able to play in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Considering the circumstances, Olczyk believes Smith, who finished with a plus/minus rating of minus-1 and had just one shot, played well in Game 3.
"I thought the kid played a good game for a kid that worked his rear end off in practice in the morning, goes back to the hotel like he's done for every single playoff game and the next thing you know at about 7:55 local time he's tapped on the shoulder and told 'You're playing tonight' and he's had no warmup. I thought he played a good game. Did he make some mistakes? Absolutely, but I thought he was one of the top six forwards for the Blackhawks (Monday night)."
Game 3 Report Card: Boston Bruins 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0
Since the power play includes offense, the grade fits. You could count on one hand the dangerous chances the Hawks had. Duncan Keith probably had one of the best of the night, moving in close on Tuukka Rask early in the game but he chose to pass instead of shoot. It was that kind of night for the Hawks, who seemingly never overcame the loss of Marian Hossa. The offensive lines looked out of sync all night and Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will undoubtedly go back to the drawing board between games, especially if Hossa is out for Game 4. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp missed the net one too many times.
The defense played fine, neither distinguishing itself in a good or bad way. Michal Rozsival threw a blind pass around the boards in the Hawks' zone, which led to the scoring sequence on the Bruins' first goal, but it wasn't an awful turnover. The second goal came on the continuation of a five-on-three power play and there wasn't much Brent Seabrook could do after Jaromir Jagr made a perfect door-step pass to Patrice Bergeron. But that's all the Bruins would get on the night as the Hawks limited Boston to a manageable amount of good scoring chances, at least during five-on-five play.
Corey Crawford did all that he could, once again getting little help in front of him. The power-play goal came after a picture-perfect pass from Jagr, and Daniel Paille's tally to open the scoring was a good shot off a broken play by the Hawks as they tried to clear the zone. Crawford stopped 33, playing an overall decent game.
The Hawks' power play was brutal once again, getting just four shots on net in 8:11 of man-advantage time. The Bruins added insult to injury getting a power play goal of their own, making it 2-0. The Hawks have had no answers this entire series or postseason when on the power play. In fact it has taken momentum away more than it has given them a boost. Boston had better scoring chances on the Hawks' power play than the Hawks did. That says it all.
BOSTON -- Here's a quick look at the Boston Bruins' 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals at TD Garden on Monday.
How it happened: The Bruins carried the momentum of winning Game 2 and came out flying at home. The Bruins weren't able to capitalize on their play in the first period, but they finally broke through in the second period. Daniel Paille continued his hot streak and scored at 2:14 of the second period to give Boston a 1-0 lead. The Bruins pushed the score to 2-0 when Patrice Bergeron netted a shot on a power play at 14:15 of the second period. The Bruins' defense and goaltender Tuukka Rask took care of the rest. Rask made 28 saves and recorded his third shutout of the playoffs. The Bruins killed off four Blackhawks' power plays. The Blackhawks haven't scored on their last 19 power plays and are 0-for-10 in the series. The Bruins have killed off 26 consecutive power plays. The Bruins also dominated the dot in Game 3, winning 39-of-56 faceoffs. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had 33 saves. The Blackhawks dealt with some pregame adversity when forward Marian Hossa was scratched after the team's warm-ups and was replaced by Ben Smith. Smith appeared in one regular-season this season.
Player of the game: Bergeron came through with the goal, but he was also 23-5 on faceoffs and had seven shots on goal.
What it means: The Bruins take a 2-1 series advantage. With the win, the Bruins went 4-0 in Game 3s in the playoff this season. On the other hand, the Blackhawks fell to 0-4 in Game 3s. The extent of Hossa's injury was unknown during the game. To lose him for an extended period could be costly for the Blackhawks. He's used in every role and is tied for a team-high 15 playoff points.
What's next: The series remains in Boston for Game 4 on Wednesday. The Bruins are 7-2 at TD Garden in the playoffs this season. The Blackhawks are 3-5 on the road.
Read the entire story.
Bickell had been on an offensive terror for eight consecutive games leading into the finals. He registered five goals, four assists and 24 shots on goal during an eight-game span from the final three games of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings through all five games of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings.
Bickell's production has now come to a halt through two games of the Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins with no points and two shots on goal in the series.
Bickell has a plan to change that going into Game 3 on Monday.
Consider these nuggets:
In a telling stat sourced by the NHL’s public relations staff following Boston’s Game 2 win in Chicago, about 75 percent of the teams to win Game 2 of finals series since 1939 went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have yet to win a Game 3 this postseason.
Read the entire story.