Baffoe: 3 Games Not Yet Enough To Show The Real Blackhawks
By Tim Baffoe--
(CBS) Well, that sucked.
My immediate reaction to the final horn of Game 3 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning wasn't shock or some agape dumbfoundedness. Just suckiness.
More importantly, it wasn't panic. Hopefully that was the case for you too, Jane and John P. Hawksfan.
Being down 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final might be reason for prepping your apocalypse shelter with canned goods and a subscription to Guns & Ammo if this were another sport or another team -- just imagine the citywide dumping of kerosene on the whole thing and prematurely lighting a match if this were a local baseball team. But these are the Blackhawks, and the Blackhawks are the better team in the Cup Final.
That's what seven-game series tend to shake out. The inferior team can make it interesting, but when all is said and done, the one with the superior weaponry that the Hawks have will prevail more times than not. This allows a brash idiot like myself who's on record as having zero worry that the Hawks would win the Cup to stick to his guns and maintain calmness. Heck, I vow to maintain stoicism should they go down 3-1 (please don't do that, though, Hawks, like seriously don't).
Ignore the screamy, sweaty stats that you're probably going to hear repeatedly for a while.
Oh, whatever. Chicago lost Game 3 this year against Anaheim -- and then Game 5. The Blackhawks were shut out in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins in the Cup Final in 2013. The lost Game 3 to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. What exactly about this team, with its core that has slapped panic upside the head repeatedly, suggests chewing your own face off right now?
The Lightning are up 2-1 because the Blackhawks haven't been themselves for two straight games. This is very much not a case of Tampa winning two games so much as Chicago finding a way to not win them.
"The Blackhawks dropped Game 3 to a goalie that looked more like Jean Claude Van Damme in net than an NHL goalie," writes the appropriately-reserved FifthFeather at The Committed Indian. "The Hawks missed two completely wide open cages in the first period. Ben Bishop could barely move side to side without dropping to one knee and yet the Hawks couldn't scratch more than two pucks past him even though they threw 38 shots on net and an ungodly amount that went wide or were blocked.
"Meanwhile, the Hawks killed off a 5-on-3, Corey Crawford stopped two breakaways and they let up for 35 seconds to find two pucks behind them.
"Hockey is the absolute worst."
But it's also the best because the Hawks, it stands to reason, have to correct to their norm. A bunch of little unfortunate bounces combining in some perfect storm to beat over the Hawks can't last. And neither can the larger storylines, such as the noticeable absence of Patrick Kane.
He won't go an entire series without fist pumping. Tampa's game plan of neutralizing Kane has so far worked, but it's another trend that won't go on forever. Kane's a critter who's too good to remain caged. His playoff history of droughts before replenishing point rains should make that obvious.
Jonathan Toews played a really good game Monday night and just so happened not to score. He will continue to play well, and success will eventually happen.
Bishop has some horseshoe up his rear that's holding his entire body up right now. As the Hawks get better going forward, he will be exposed for the damaged goods he is and the very fallible healthy goalie he would be regardless.
The randomness that separates hockey from the other major sports has been evident in this series so far. But even for the ever-present potential for the weird bounce or deflection, the game still normalizes on a long enough timeline.
Three games haven't been long enough this time around. Six or seven games likely will be.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.
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