BOSTON – The question came up in several Blackhawks scrums, be it after their Game 3 loss Monday or as part of their Game 4 prep Tuesday.
Down 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, do they look at their series deficit against Detroit (which was 3-1) for motivation, a reminder that they can come back?
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“You feel a little frustrated, but that’s hockey. You deal with it and we’re going to battle through it,” Dave Bolland said Tuesday. “They’re only up 2-1. That’s it.”
Yes, the deficit isn’t quite as bad as it was against Detroit. But even if the Blackhawks want to look back at that comeback against Detroit, there’s one small thing: the Boston Bruins are not Detroit.
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The Blackhawks are saying the right things and keeping the positive outlook as they head into Game 4 tomorrow night against the Bruins. It’s reminiscent of their second-round series, where they felt they were right there, so close to coming back against the rival Red Wings. They did, taking what good things they did in several close games, and pushing forward.
But this isn’t quite the same thing and the Bruins aren’t quite the same team. Detroit is very much like Chicago in terms of playing style: some hitting, certainly, but the speed and skill game dominates. The Bruins are a combination of Detroit and a healthy Los Angeles Kings: skill, size and a strong physical presence. All of that was on display for Boston in Game 3, a decisive decision not truly conveyed by its 2-0 margin of victory.
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“They’re a little bit different team than Detroit was,” said goaltender Corey Crawford, who stopped 33-of-35 shots in that Game 3 loss. “They’re able to sit back and wait for us to collapse defensively. You can’t block everything. But we made some plays and had some good shots and had a couple of the chances just go wide. We’ve got to keep playing hard.”
There’s also a question if the Bruins’ physical game is taking its toll on the Blackhawks. Detroit doled out its share of hits, at least early, in that second-round series. But it wasn’t constant, as it is with the Bruins, who have used those hits to slow the Blackhawks’ pace. The Blackhawks are feeling those bumps and bruises more than they were two rounds ago – Marian Hossa missed Game 3 with an upper-body injury and is “likely” to play in Game 4, according to coach Joel Quenneville. Who knows if others are playing through things, including anything that may have been sustained in this series.
The Blackhawks have one of those must-win games coming again. There’s a big, bold line between going back to Chicago tied 2-2 in the Final or down 3-1. Yes, if they fall into a 3-1 series deficit, they’ve been there two rounds ago. But they weren’t there against this type of team two rounds ago.
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“I thought we had some desperation (in Game 3). We just couldn't score,” Brent Seabrook said. “But tomorrow we're going to need urgency, we're going to need desperation and we're going to have to play a solid 60 minutes every shift. Every second of tomorrow's game is going to be important for us to be at our best. We've got to come out and answer the bell.”