Ben Smith smiled at the question, the doom-and-gloom one coming off that horrid Game 2 ending.
“Well, the sun rose this morning…” Smith started with a grin. His coach, however, wasn’t too happy when that sun rose.
“I woke up this morning way more angry than when I exited the game. Normally it’s the other way around,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But certainly, there are a lot of positives to take out of that game. (But) the little details… and the way we gave them the goals.”
Their coach’s anger aside, the Blackhawks were taking their 6-2 drubbing from the Los Angeles Kings the way they would any other loss: they recognize it, take lessons from it, then forget it and try to never repeat it. They hope to do that on Saturday, when they face the Kings in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
“We have to move on,” Duncan Keith said. “I don’t think we’re happy with the way it ended and unfolded. But looking back, there are a lot of good things we did. We have to learn from it, like we try to do for every game whether it’s a win or loss, and understand what went wrong. Today’s a new day; move on from that one.”
The Blackhawks did do plenty good in those first 38 minutes. Still, they had their missed opportunities. Jonathan Quick came up with a big stop on Brent Seabrook’s 2-on-1 shot that would’ve given the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead. But there were other chances earlier. The Blackhawks had four first-period power plays, including 38 seconds of a 5-on-3. They scored just one power-play goal. They went foolish to start the third with penalties, putting a very proficient Kings power play on the job; it capitalized on back-to-back opportunities.
Smith said the Blackhawks need a better sense of urgency.
“We just need to show a bit more passion there and competitiveness in the last 20 minutes, like we had in the first 40,” he said. “We got away from our game, took some penalties and they have a great power play. We took some chances to get back into the game. It happened quickly; obviously we weren’t happy about it.”
Quenneville’s biggest problem was with that start to the third.
“I thought particularly the first four goals, the penalties and the two goals, we’ve got to be more diligent in those areas,” he said. “They’ve got to work for their goals. They came rather easily. Against a team that has some skill, some playmaking ability, we’ve got to make sure to work harder in those areas.”
Corey Crawford gave up five goals after being so good in recent games but Quenneville wasn’t putting the onus on him.
“That was a team effort last night,” he said. “When we got behind 4-2, even 3-2, we were definitely taking more chances than we’re accustomed to. We were pressing. Then came the high quality against us. One thing about Corey, he’s been fine this entire playoffs (with) his consistency in how he moves to the next game, the next shot, next challenge. He should be commended on his approach, knowing we’re going to LA and we’re going to need him to be big.”
The Blackhawks have come back from bad starts and bad games in previous series. Sure, they would’ve liked to win another game at the United Center but as Kings coach Darryl Sutter accurately stated on Wednesday night, “at some point they're going to lose a game at home. They're not going to win every one.”
Video was likely reviewed. Lessons likely were learned. The Blackhawks go into an arena in which they’ve had some great success. They’ll need to tap into that, as well as a 60-minute game, to get the edge back in this series. The mornings after will be more pleasant if they do.
“We want to let the pain we felt sink in. Having said that, we want to move forward and know that, for a good portion of that game, we were in control and playing well,” Smith said. “If we focus on that, try to bring that for 60 minutes, it puts us in a good spot to win games. We’ll learn from it, for sure, and try to move forward.”