Blackhawks notebook: Time for desperation
Game 4 against the Coyotes on Thursday was supposed to be about anger, revenge and desperation for the Blackhawks.
They had lost Marian Hossa to an ugly shoulder-to-head hit from the Coyotes’ Raffi Torres in Game 3. They watched Andrew Shaw get suspended for three games for a seemingly unintentional helmet-to-mask collision with goalie Mike Smith, who went down in Game 2 in a spinning, glove-throwing fall many called an embellishment.
But the Hawks didn’t show up until the final 10 minutes Thursday, forcing another overtime in a series that had required an extra period to finish every game, and eventually lost 3-2 on Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker’s second OT winner in as many games.
For all the Hawks’ talk of getting more traffic on Smith, playing with energy, anger and a purpose and doing the simple things to win, it was the Coyotes who controlled the game again. Michael Frolik was able to force overtime with a goal with 86 seconds left in regulation, but the Coyotes’ defensive scheme dominated for 50 minutes.
“It sure doesn’t feel like we’re down 3-1 in the series; every game’s been close,” Jonathan Toews said. “But I think tonight, especially, it’s a little disappointing. We played well enough to win, but it never really felt like we took control of that game at any point.”
The Hawks’ stars didn’t show up again, while Corey Crawford allowed a soft goal in overtime for the second game in a row. The Coyotes are one win away from handing the Hawks their second consecutive first-round elimination, possibly in Game 5 Saturday in Glendale.
“It’s a tough road ahead of us, and I think you want to look at the smaller picture and pick ourselves up after a tough ending tonight and fly into Phoenix tomorrow and get ourselves excited again,” Quenneville said. “But we’re certainly disappointed. We’re not happy with the way we played. There are certain guys who have to pick up their game.”
The Hawks’ power play also continued to flounder. Their blue-liners continued to play on their heels, and turnovers continued to cost the team.
There are simply a lot of things for the Hawks to work on if they want any hope of rallying out of their 3-1 series hole. The bright side: The Blackhawks were able to win three games in a row last postseason against the Vancouver Canucks after falling behind 3-0.
“It’s got to be a desperate attitude,” Toews said. “We’ve got to put it all on the line and give it our best shot and not look back and not worry about what’s happened already, because obviously there’s nothing we can do about that.”
— RW Marian Hossa is out indefinitely with a head injury, which he suffered when Coyotes agitator Raffi Torres struck him with a leaping, shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3. Plenty of Hawks have communicated with Hossa, who was hospitalized for a couple of hours because of the hit.
“He’s texting all the boys back, so he’s pretty busy with his phone now,” Jonathan Toews said. “I don’t want to keep him too busy. You want him to rest and relax. But by the sound of it, he’s getting better as the day goes on.”
— LW/RW Brandon Saad made his NHL playoff debut Thursday in Game 4. Saad, 19, was recently recalled, and Hossa’s injury and Andrew Shaw’s suspension opened the door for him. Saad is regarded as one of the Hawks’ best prospects, which was made clear when he got the nod against the Coyotes over more experienced players.
“We know what (Saad) can do offensively,” Quenneville said. “He gives us some nice assets and (it’s a) nice opportunity to have some skill. He can complement some guys with skill.”
Saad, a second-round pick in 2011, made the Hawks out of training camp and played in two games to start the season after signing his entry-level deal. He later amassed 76 points in 44 games in the Ontario Hockey League before rejoining the Hawks. He had four hits and a plus-1 rating in 13:11 of ice time against the Coyotes.
— The Blackhawks’ power play continues to be very ineffective. Things have been so bad that Saad, playing in his just his third NHL game, got a crack on one unit to shake things up. The Hawks went 0 for 3 in Game 4 Thursday and are now 1 for 13 in the series (7.7 percent). The Hawks finished the season with a 15.2 percent success rate.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “There are certain guys who I think need to be better in our team game, but for 40 minutes, I didn’t mind the way we played.” — Coach Joel Quenneville after the Hawks’ overtime loss to the Coyotes in Game 4.
— RW Michael Frolik scored in the second consecutive game after being a healthy scratch in the first two games of the series against the Coyotes. Frolik scored with 86 seconds left to force overtime. Frolik had a tough regular season and often was a healthy scratch toward the end. His last goal before scoring in back-to-back games against the Coyotes came on Dec. 14 in Minnesota. Being reunited with LW Bryan Bickell and C Dave Bolland has helped reinvigorate his game.
— C Brendan Morrison scored his first goal as a Hawk when he fired in a slap shot in the third period against the Coyotes. Morrison, whom the Hawks acquired from the Flames during the All-Star break, replaced C Jamal Mayers in the lineup. He played in only 11 regular-season games with the Hawks. His goal Thursday was his first since Jan. 1 while with Calgary. It was his first postseason goal since May 1, 2007, when he was with the Canucks.
— G Corey Crawford allowed three goals on 19 shots against the Coyotes, losing Games 3 and 4 in overtime on shots by Coyotes RW Mikkel Boedker he probably should have stopped. Crawford has a .900 save percentage in four games against the Coyotes, turning away 108 of 120 shots. In the seven-game loss to the Canucks last postseason, Crawford finished with a .927 save percentage.