Finally, the hour is nearly upon us. Approximately 15 minutes after the horn sounded ending Game 3, I was ready for Game 4. I doubt I was hardly alone with that thinking. And so here we are.
We’ve had plenty of time to beat the dead horses that were Game’s 2 and 3 and the narratives have already been decided by the powers that be. The Blackhawks are the President Trophy winning team unable to match the “will” or “intensity” of those pesky Red Wings. Meanwhile, no matter what the stat sheet says from this point forth, the Red Wings have found a way to shut down the Blackhawks vaunted attack. Should the Hawks win, it was just what was supposed to happen all along.
The truth is, the Blackhawks dominated Game 1. Detroit counter-punched with a terrific Game 2 and then Game 3 could be categorized as napkin-wrapped dog turd from the hockey gods. Aside from a second period that favored the Wings, the Hawks controlled the puck for a good majority of the game. They directed 68 shots toward Jimmy Howard. They hit three posts. They had one goal…oh blah, blah, blah, you all know this. My point is the narrative has already been decided and whatever happens, it won’t matter. Everything is going to fit under a cliched umbrella. It’s very annoying.
The Red Wings are America’s perverted darling who seem intent on screwing up a perfectly fine final four that would not only generate monster ratings, but actually get people outside the sport legitimately excited about hockey again.
Going into Game 4, my best prognostication would be that the Wings plan on keeping the same plan from the last two games – close off shooting lanes, wait for a Hawks mistake to pounce on and rely on Jimmy Howard to bail them out of any trouble. The Wings best line offensively this series has been the Gustav Nyquist, Damien Brunner, and whoever the hell the third guy is. Henrik Zetterberg will continue to annoy the masses and Johan Franzen will continue to do nothing. We know all this.
(Trying not to sound like a broken cassette tape) For the Hawks, it sounds like there might be a shake-up of the lines which is all fine by me. Anything that will help Patrick Kane not feel like he’s playing 3-on-5 every shift is alright by me. We keep saying this will be the game Jonathan Toews breaks out. Sooner or later, someone is going to be right. He was close in Game 3. If the Hawks could get any kind of offensive contribution from their bottom six, you might as well chalk it up as a win. Because once they get scoring from the Bickells and Stalbergs, the top two lines are going to start feasting away with the pressure off.
A Chicago power play goal would do wonders for opening up the style of play. The Hawks were close in their last attempt during Game 3 as you actually saw the puck moving quickly from player-to-player and movement of the feet. Shockingly, they got a few excellent looks.
Right now, Detroit doesn’t fear going on the penalty kill because the Hawks haven’t proved they’ve been able to beat them. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in Game 1, the Hawks opened the scoring on the power play and Detroit didn’t enact a lot of the Jonathan “I can still play like it’s 1999” Ericsson interference-type defense that we’ve seen enough of these last two games.
As an aside, I want to make a proclamation as a Blackhawks fan. I am so sick and tired of being on this side of the rivalry. In 1995 and 2009, it was easy to turn the cheek. The Wings outclassed the Hawks in every facet. The Hawks could only muster 2 wins in the series combined and sure, all the games were close, but they felt more like a cat gumming a mouse before taking the final chomp. Now that the Hawks hold the edge in talent, it’s about time they outclassed the Wings. I don’t want to look back on this season and have to hear about the genius of Mike Babcock, this amazing Detroit youth (Which, with the exception of Damien Brunner who’s in his first year, is so good they managed to squeak in the playoffs this year and get demolished by Nashville in the first round last year) and the even more annoying narrative of the President Trophy curse.
Enough is enough. Put your fucking foot down. You’re the better team in every which way the proverbial cookie crumbles. It’s time to take Lady Luck, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall by the hair, hit them over the head with a wooden club, drag them away like a caveman and leave the excuses as to why the lesser team lost up to somebody else to decide.
It starts tonight.