The rule, as always, is don’t mess with a team owned by the NHL.
With another twist of the knife, the series between the Coyotes and Blackhawks continued to state its case as one of the worst officiated playoff series in NHL history. It started a few hours before the game when Brendan Shanahan finally decided to slap a three game suspension on Andrew Shaw. Nevermind, he could have made the decision on Sunday or Monday. Rather, he waited until everyone was already at the rink getting ready for the game keeping the Hawks lineup in a state of limbo until the last possible moment.
Then, Raffi Torres murdered Marian Hossa early in the first period. One of the Hawks team leaders was carried off the ice in a stretcher after Torres…well you know what happened. Instead of a traditional 5 minute major and game misconduct given normally on such plays, Torres escaped scot-free with Brandon Bollig receiving the only penalty, that of a 2 minute minor and 10 minute misconduct leaving the Hawks with 10 forwards to play against Phoenix’s 12 for the majority of the game.
It caught up to the Hawks in the late stages of the game as the team appeared not only emotionally exhausted, but physically as well. Phoenix kept coming and it was only a matter of time the game was theirs. (Of course, if the Hawks had a goalie capable of stealing a game once in a while maybe we’re not having this discussion but alas.)
–Any time the Hawks second defensive pairing wants to become engaged in this series is fine by me. Johnny Oduya has been a rumor thus far and Nick Leddy is so afraid of contact he makes Brian Campbell look like Larry Robinson. Meanwhile, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are asked to shoulder incredibly high minutes at the behest of their inadequate teammates.
–Normally, losing a game with the Coyotes missing Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpokoski would feel like a blown opportunity. But with the extenuating circumstances leading up to and during the game, it’s not hard to see why the Hawks struggled to find any kind of wind. Just six hours before puck drop, they were still waiting to hear if their teammate was suspended and still answering questions about the play. Then once the game began, the moment they started to find their legs, one of their teammates dies on the ice.
I fully expect in Game 4 to see a much different Blackhawks team. Just about everything has gone against them thus far and yet they’re only down two games to one. At some point, the cream rises to the top and those shots ticketed over Mike Smith’s shoulder start hitting twine.