There’s one thing to count during playoff season and that’s over analyzing.
“The Blackhawks don’t hit enough”, “The Blackhawks carry too much dead weight”, “The Blackhawks don’t shoot enough”, “Mike Smith is in the Hawks’ players heads”, “The Blackhawks can’t handle a scary, complex forecheck”….you get the point.
The truth is, the only thing that’s the difference in this series is one team’s goalie has done everything in his power to extend the game for his team. Imagine if the roles were reversed or even if the Hawks had split these last two games. Would everyone be in such a rush to pile on why they’ve been right the whole season about what’s wrong with the Hawks?
The Hawks are never out of any game against Phoenix. Game 4 proved that. It also proved that when the Hawks ask their goalie to make the most elementary of saves in a crucial situation, he’s going to crap all over himself.
Yet somehow, this point is glossed over and the Coyotes are such a superior team to the Blackhawks, the Blackhawks have no chance, Stan Bowman screwed them, etc, etc. This is playoff hockey. The lines between great and good are often fuzzy and even when there’s an outcome, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right.
The Hawks are still a more talented team than the Coyotes. The Hawks are still playing just as disciplined, if not more disciplined, of a series as the Coyotes. The Hawks are just as well coached as the Coyotes. The only difference is one guy makes routine saves when he has to; the other is not.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are another example to look at. While they have superior firepower to the Blackhawks, defensively, it’s not even close. Yet the only person under fire there is Marc-Andre Fleury. Not because he’s not a brick wall but because he’s been unable to even provide replacement level type numbers.
The playoffs are still the same as they’ve always been. The team with the most talent and a goalie making saves at a 91-92% clip is going to come out ahead every time.
–I just will not believe this series will conclude without Jonathan Toews or Patrick Sharp heard from. That’s why I’m fairly confident this series will be extended because these are two proven playoff performers who haven’t made much of a difference thus far. Toews, obviously, is still getting back into playing shape and after four games, I can’t help but think one of those Conan the Barbarian-type performances is coming from him.
As for Patrick Sharp, there’s a lot to be desired. He hasn’t really done a whole bunch and maybe some of that has to do with Marcus Kruger who, while he played better in game 4, looks like a guy just recalled from the Swedish Elite League. But Sharp hasn’t really needed world-class line mates to set the world on fire. In ’08-09 against Vancouver, he spent the majority of the series on a line with Adam Burish and Ben Eager and had no problem filling up the net.