Chicago Blackhawks playoff winning streak ends, still up 2-1

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For Blackhawks fans the sound echoing in the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia is a lot like the air rushing out of a dude after said dude has been punched in the gut. The 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals wasn’t debilitating by any means but it was definitely a wake up call that there is still work to be done.

By Peter Christian

The Blackhawks battled for most the game to just try and keep the Flyers momentum in check. That effort paid off in each period as the Hawks tied the game at 1-1 early in the 2nd period, at 2-2 late in the 2nd period then converted a one on oh breakaway to take a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period. But the Flyers never quit.

The Flyers outshot, outhit and outhustled the Blackhawks for the entirety of game 3 but somehow, the game was always within Chicago’s grasp. Antti Niemi was brilliant for stretches as Philly pelted the net with shots. Marian Hossa was a one man show at times as he was able to outskate Flyers players to attack loose pucks and create turnovers. The Blackhawks 4th line was a spark plug as they created chaos during their short shifts. Yet, with all those efforts, the Blackhawks couldn’t go up 3-0 in the series.

Instead, the series stands at two games to one in favor of Chicago with at least one more game to play in Philadelphia. Now, the path to the Stanley Cup doesn’t look as guaranteed as it felt for Blackhawks fans earlier today.

Prior to Lauren Hart singing “God Bless America” the Blackhawks hadn’t lost a game in 3 weeks. The confidence level of the team and the fans was overflowing and the etching of the Hawks roster on the Stanley Cup was all but an afterthought. Seven straight playoff wins will do that to a team and its fan base. Hopefully the OT loss is a wake up call.

Looking ahead to Game 4 the Blackhawks must do a better job of dictating their pace to put the pressure on Philadelphia, not the other way around. The entire team must play like Hossa and the 4th line did or the series could very likely be tied at two games a piece heading back to the United Center.

In order for the Blackhawks to maintain control of the series, one of the top two lines are going to have to step up their current output or Coach Quenneville is going to have to mix things up. Right now, Dustin Byfuglien is being stifled by Chris Pronger which is in turn limiting the top line. If the Flyers are going to shadow Buff with Pronger, it might not be a bad idea to move the big guy onto the 2nd or 3rd line to allow Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane the chance to skate on the sheet without Pronger or Matt Carle patrolling the neutral zone.

The loss itself is nothing to cause panic for Blackhawks fans as it is, only one loss. Though if some of the players make their game 3 performance a habit, a siren or two might start going off sooner rather than later.

Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Agreed the much ballyhooed battle between big Buff and Pronger is really going the way of Philly right now, and yes everyone here in the second city has firm beliefs that this was a done deal….before today.

    All those consecutive playoff road wins and it just seemed like a forgone conclusion which was a pretty stupid way to think/believe because after all droughts happen for a reason

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