LOS ANGELES – The comparison was an easy one to make late Monday night.
The Blackhawks are in a 3-1 series hole, much like they were last spring to the Detroit Red Wings. They were able to overcome that one. Now they’re dealing with the same deficit, this time to the Los Angeles Kings in this Western Conference Final. And much like last season, the Blackhawks know they’re going to have to dig deep – like to the core-of-the-earth deep – to get back into this series.
“Here we are. We’ve got to give it everything and nothing less,” Jonathan Toews said following the Blackhawks’ 5-2 loss to the Kings in Game 4. “Credit that team, they’re a good team, but we know we’ve got more.”
The Blackhawks will have to have a lot more to get out of this one. Sure, it’s easy to draw the comparison to the Wings’ second-round series last year. But are they really similar? Those losses to the Wings were close; the Blackhawks were doing a lot right even in defeat.
These last three losses to the Kings have had a different vibe. They’re giving up goals left, right and sideways, and the three constants that helped them last postseason (defense, the penalty kill and Corey Crawford) aren’t coming through right now. In the last seven periods, starting with the third period of Game 2, the Blackhawks have given up 14 goals. Crawford has been in net for 12 of them. Five of the Kings’ goals over that span have been on the power play.
The numbers are rough, indeed.
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“Obviously it’s frustrating at the moment. But we have to take these next couple of days to regroup again and find a way,” Duncan Keith said. “We have to be excited about going back home and all we have to do is win one hockey game. That’s all our focus is on is winning one hockey game. We were in the same position last year against Detroit and found a way. It’s up to us to dig down deep and find a way.”
Yep, it’s the one-game-at-a-time approach.
“Go back and just think the one game, get momentum and look at it like that,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’d like to come back here but that’s the thought process: don’t think of anything more than (Game 5). Let’s be excited about being at home and try to get the momentum back.”
It’s going to require a deep dig to get that momentum back, to get back into this series. The series deficit may be the same but the circumstances are fairly different beyond that. The Blackhawks have certainly been here before, nevertheless. Now they have to find a way to get out of it again.
“We’ve just got to do some little things here and there to make ourselves feel good and get that confidence, get that swagger back to our game,” Toews said. “We’ve got to find a way to get those bounces and get things going our way. We’ll work ourselves out of it.”