MUSICK: Hawks no match for Bruins
BOSTON – This is how Paul Revere must have felt.
A staunch enemy was on the move, ready to attack. They believed something to be theirs. Compromise was impossible. Blood would spill.
Let us hear it, Paul.
The Bruins are coming! The Bruins are coming!
But this was no Midnight Ride with two lanterns and a horse.
This was a Monday Mauling. A Beantown Beatdown. A Wicked Walloping.
The Blackhawks tried to argue otherwise, but it was true.
The Bruins’ 2-0 win against the Hawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final didn’t look so lopsided on the scoreboard. Everyone knew the Bruins played well in TD Garden, their home rink, and few predicted the Hawks to coast to a four- or five-game series win.
But below the scoreboard, the game on the ice told a different story. A scarier story.
Too often, the Bruins looked like a machine. Too often, the Hawks looked like a mess.
Keep losing battles, and you’ll lose the war.
The Hawks trail the best-of-seven series, 2-1. A loss in Game 4 would put the Hawks on the brink of elimination against a team that has won 11 of its past 13 games in the playoffs.
That possibility is more horrifying than the Hawks on the power play.
“We expected it to be a tough atmosphere,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said in a packed visitors’ locker room not long after the final horn sounded. “We expected Boston to be flying out there, and they were. Considering that, I think we did a lot of good things.”
Um. Such as?
Yes, the Hawks played well during stretches of the game. But they were outscored, outshot, outhit and outblocked while winning 16 faceoffs and losing 40.
Did we mention the power play? It was 0 for 5. It might as well have been 0 for 50.
“It’s hard to get A-plus chances,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “You have to manufacture the second, kind of ugly goals, tip, screens, deflections.”
The ugly is there. The goals are not.
As has been written in this space before, hockey often is a game of luck.
A bounce here. A deflection there. A random moment in a random world.
But nothing about Game 3 was a fluke.
Certainly, the absence of Marian Hossa did not help. Hossa took part in pregame warmups before he was declared out for the game because of an upper-body injury.
Ben Smith, who played one entire game during the regular season, took Hossa’s spot in the lineup. Either Smith was super excited as he danced and swayed on the Hawks’ bench during the national anthem, or he really, really had to go to the bathroom.
“I just kind of scrambled to get ready and get warm,” Smith said.
But why were the Hawks so cold?
In a basement of a massive building on a dark New England night, Patrick Sharp searched desperately for a bright spot.
Give him credit for trying.
“I think we started skating better in the third period,” Sharp said. “We played with a little more desperation. I feel like we can do that right from the first shift of the game.”
Hey, great idea.
OK, OK. Maybe this is too negative.
Looking beyond Game 3 and at the series as a whole, it’s clear the Hawks are a great team. It’s clear the Bruins are a great team. It’s clear this has been a hair-puller of a series.
Could Hossa have made a difference?
Yes, to some extent. But he would not have been enough to prevent the Bruins’ onslaught.
“For the most part, I think we stuck with it a little bit more for 60 minutes,” Toews said. “We just didn’t score enough goals to win.”
Toews paused, possibly aware of how strange his words sounded.
“We didn’t score a goal,” Toews said. “So, that’s the frustrating part.”
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.