It always takes something bad, disappointing, frustrating or unfortunate for people to tap inward and find the mettle to bounce back.
The Chicago Blackhawks kind of, sort of find themselves in that position right now. They’re only down 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings. But they’re down 2-1 heading into another road game, down 2-1 after suffering two consecutive losses for just the fourth time since the 2013 regular season began.
The must-win mantra is officially in full effect.
The Blackhawks haven’t faced much adversity this season but they’re dealing with some now, as they head to Detroit for Game 4 against the Wings on Thursday night. The Blackhawks obviously want to even this series up. In a way, they need to. A 3-1 deficit certainly isn't impossible to overcome, but it’s pretty damn difficult.
So now, the Blackhawks will find out what they’re made of.
"Anything can happen; they’re only up 2-1. We just have to stay focused as a group, push and compete,” Andrew Shaw said. “We knew they were a skilled team; they took out Anaheim, another skilled, hard-working team. It’s a battle. We have to work for each other, and show it more than they do.”
Getting off to a good start, with a goal to show for it, is key.
“It’s going to be huge,” Marian Hossa said of the Game 4 start. “It’s going to be a big difference after Game 4: it’s either going to be 2-2 or 3-1. We know the stakes and we have to prepare. We did a lot of good things in Game 3, but they still found a way to be better than us. In Game 4 we have to be better than them.”
This is the longest losing streak the Blackhawks had all season; when they had them a few times in the regular season, they bounced back very well. To do that again, they need some individuals to break out of their respective slumps. They need that power play to start generating goals. They need to be at their best.
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This is new ground for the Blackhawks this season. Enough of them were here last season, when they went through a nine-game winless streak that ultimately cost them a top-four playoff spot and then were eliminated too soon against the Phoenix Coyotes. But this year there hasn’t been a big need for a fortitude check. Until now.
The Blackhawks will draw on whatever they have to for motivation in Game 4. But the thought of going down 3-1 in this series should be enough.
“All year long we’ve been in a favorable position. We haven’t been up against it in many areas, be it stretches of being down or in a series. It’s a good test for us, a good challenge for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The adversity right now, we have to find a way to overcome it. It’ll be a good challenge at the end of the day to find out about everybody.”