By Paul M. Banks
Since the opening face off, the Chicago Blackhawks first round playoff series with the Calgary Flames has been a very physical one. Game one contained lots of good solid checking, but it didn’t have all the punches of games two and three. Monday night’s loss in Calgary saw even more checks get cashed in the currency of pushes, shoves and punches.
Downright dirty and nasty, if these series trends continue maybe we’ll see Ken Shamrock or Oscar de la Hoya on skates in game six. Usually the postseason brings less fighting than the regular season because teams don’t want to risk obtaining dumb penalties within tight playoff games, but emotion has taken over for logic at certain points of this series so far.
And since game three was a little more lopsided down the stretch than the first two, the physicality was ramped up even further.
Hawks defenseman (or “defenceman” in Canadian English) Duncan Keith sees the physical quotient increasing as the series goes on. “Every game’s going to be tougher and tougher that’s the mentality you have to have. Naturally, the more times you play a team, the more issues, whatever you want to call it, you’re going to have against guys out there. Obviously, they’re trying to key on certain guys on our team, and we’re trying to hit them as much as we can as well,” Keith stated.
Both teams combined earned 5 penalties for 12 minutes in game one. The second game total jumped to 9 infractions- 18 minutes while game 3 at the Saddle Dome saw a whopping 13 penalties for 86 minutes combined!
The Hawks lead the series 2-1 and in order to maintain control, they must keep a cool head when considering possible retaliation against the Flames. “It’s something we’ve talked about in here. We try to play as hard as we can whistle-to-whistle and be in their face as much as they’re in ours without taking penalties. Discipline is a huge part of the game in the playoffs and that’s something we’re addressing,” said Hawks forward Patrick Sharp.
As this series between the 1988 Winter Olympic host city and a 2016 Summer Olympic bid city progresses, expect the skills and fundamentals inherent to a few Olympic events (boxing, wrestling, possibly tae kwon do) to play a significant role.Follow paulmbanks