CHICAGO – Let the record show that the first person to mention the Blackhawks’ daunting 3-1 series deficit Friday was a player, not a know-nothing writer or a loudmouth broadcaster.
Michael Frolik, the floor is yours.
“We are down, 3-1,” said Frolik, who managed not to wince as he described the Hawks’ predicament against the Detroit Red Wings. “For sure, it’s not a good position. But I think we’ve proved in the past that we can turn it around.”
It says here that the Hawks have been playing hockey since Nov. 17, 1926, when they scored a big win (4-1!) against the Toronto St. Patricks. It was an unforgettable day (at least, I assume so) for Hawks owner Major Frederic McLaughlin, who earned his money as a coffee baron.
Since that day in 1926, care to guess how many 3-1 series deficits the Hawks have overcome?
Zero. Zilch. Zip.
Eleven times in franchise history, the Hawks have dug a 3-1 hole in a best-of-seven series. Eleven times, that hole has proved to be too steep to escape.
I hate to say it, but I have a feeling that this year’s team will extend that streak to 12 for 12.
Sure, it’s possible the Hawks could rally for three consecutive playoff wins against the Wings, whom they defeated four consecutive times during the regular season. The Hawks’ losses in Games 3 and 4 in Detroit were close – really close – as a handful of shots clanked off posts.
The Hawks met as a team Friday before a dozen players took the ice for an optional skate.
“Everybody is counting us out now, except us in here,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “That’s the only thing you can really do is look back at past experiences and go from there.”
Here’s the thing. Those past experiences are not exactly comforting.
2012: Down, 3-1, the Hawks win Game 5 before losing Game 6 against Phoenix.
2011: Down, 3-0, the Hawks win Games 4, 5 and 6 before losing Game 7 against Vancouver.
2009: Down, 3-1, the Hawks lose Game 5 against Detroit to end their season.
2002: Down, 3-1, the Hawks lose Game 5 against St. Louis to end their season.
1995: Down, 3-1, the Hawks lose Game 5 against Detroit to end their season.
I could keep going – a half-dozen more examples exist from 1968 to 1989 – but you get the idea.
Talk about the Canucks’ series comeback of 2011 all you want, but at the end of the day, the Hawks still headed home while Vancouver marched to the Stanley Cup Final. Besides, Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has given us no reason to believe that he will flip 180 degrees and turn into Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo in the next few days.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville offered other examples of teams to rally from 3-1 deficits. Quenneville’s St. Louis Blues did so in 1999. So did the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, when current Hawks forward Daniel Carcillo was part of the team that came back against the Boston Bruins.
All told, 20 out of 229 teams (8.7 percent) have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series, according to NHL.com.
“One game could turn everything around,” Quenneville said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”
More evidence to support that optimism. That’s what I’m looking for.
• Northwest Herald sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.