Chicago knows it’s a pivotal Game 4 tonight in Boston, with Bruins up 2-1
There is no panic or frustration. But Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville acknowledges his team is in a tough spot going into tonight’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final.
“You lose back-to-back games, it gets your attention,” the coach conceded. “We’re in a hole right now. We want to make sure we prioritize the importance of that game and it’s a different level.”
Down two games to one, the Hawks face a tall order in trying to bring down the Bruins in their own building.
Boston has won seven straight at home and is 8-2 overall at TD Garden in these playoffs, outscoring the opposition 28-17.
At least, the Hawks can take solace from their second-round series against Detroit. They trailed the Red Wings three games to one before reeling off three straight wins.
“I think we’re in a tough spot,” Quenneville acknowledged. “In the Detroit series, we found a way to get ourselves to get back into it. That’s what we’re looking for. (Tonight’s) is a very important game, like we have to win. Come up with a good result, we’re right where we want to be.”
Quenneville said he hoped injured star Marian Hossa (upper body) will be back in the lineup. Chicago’s co-scoring leader was a late scratch Monday, replaced by Ben Smith
Quenneville was quizzed on why Smith didn’t take the warmup if Hossa was a doubtful starter. Eventually he confessed that he did not want to tip his hand that something might be awry with his lineup.
The Chicago coach has other concerns.
His team is getting schooled in the faceoff circle, putting the Hawks constantly on the back foot. Boston won 40 of 56 faceoffs Monday with Patrice Bergeron winning 24 of 28 draws.
Chicago’s power play, which was ordinary during the season (ranking 19th with a 16.7 percentage success rate), has been even worse in the playoffs.
Chicago was 0-for-5 with a man advantage in Game 3 and has not scored a power-play goal in its last 20 chances dating to Game 2 of the Western Conference final. The Blackhawks have an 11.3 per cent success rate this post-season (7-for-62), and are only 3.7 per cent on the road (1-for-27).
The Hawks are 0-for-11 with a man advantage against Boston this series.
Boston’s penalty killing isn’t helping matters. The Bruins killed off five power plays Monday night, stretching their successful string to 27 consecutive penalties dating to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I think special teams last night, they won that war,” Quenneville said Tuesday.
Whatever the manpower situation, Chicago has not scored in 122 minutes 26 seconds. This from a team that scored 155 goals during the regular season, second only to Pittsburgh.
Of course, the Bruins limited the high-flying Pens to two goals in four games in the Eastern final.
The numbers all seem to favour Boston.
The Bruins are 2-0 when holding a 2-1 series lead in the final. The Blackhawks are 0-3 lifetime when trailing 2-1 in the final.
“We know they’re a good team, tough to play against,” said Chicago defenceman Johnny Oduya. “But I think we still feel confident. We know we have to steal a game here and that’s what we’re looking to do.”
The Hawks, like the Bruins, had an optional skate Tuesday with most players skipping the session.