BOSTON – Well, that return to TD Garden didn’t go very well, did it?
Again, it’s one thing to lose; every team is going to lose some in an 82-game season. But it’s the way a team loses that can be more telling. The Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night was, well, ugly. It’s certainly an outing the Blackhawks would like to forget as soon as possible.
Good news: the Blackhawks have their chance to do that, as they play the Ottawa Senators tonight. As Patrick Sharp said following the loss, that’s the good thing about having a back-to-back: “You can forget this and apply all the things that didn’t happen (Thursday, on Friday).”
And via the NHL, here’s the latest playoff scenario for the Blackhawks: they clinch a berth if they get at least a point against the Ottawa Senators or if the Dallas Stars lose to the Nashville Predators in any fashion. Just in case they needed added incentive.
So while the Blackhawks forget about Beantown and switch their focus to Canada’s capital city, we’ll look at the Five Things to watch for in Friday's Blackhawks-Senators game.
1. Make sure energy at the start remains long after the start.
As we wrote last night, the Blackhawks started beautifully vs. the Bruins on Thursday. They controlled the puck, their speed was evident and they had the Bruins befuddled. Then Boston scored and the Blackhawks went got on their heels. If the Blackhawks play their style, it doesn’t matter if they’re down a goal; they can overcome it, tie it and eventually lead it. They need to stop leaving their game so quickly.
2. Do not underestimate the Senators.
Ottawa is in a nosedive, there’s no doubt about that. The Senators are 3-6-3 in March, and they suffered another blow Thursday when Bobby Ryan was ruled out the rest of the season (sports hernia surgery). You see where we’re going with this, right? The Senators have nothing to lose and would be all too happy to beat the Blackhawks on home ice tonight. The Blackhawks cannot toy with them.
3. Get back to getting greasy goals.
Tuukka Rask was certainly good for the Bruins but the Blackhawks didn’t challenge him a ton, either. Whether it was their own doing (or not doing) or the Bruins’ defense, the Blackhawks were playing more along the outside than the inside again. As head coach Joel Quenneville put it, “we were easy to play against.” Win those battles along the boards again, get in front of the net again and get scoring again.
4. Fight for home ice.
If the Blackhawks want extra motivation, there’s this: they still have home-ice advantage for their likely first-round matchup vs. Colorado, but just barely. The Avalanche won on Thursday, so they’re just one point behind the Blackhawks entering tonight. The Blackhawks need to get some breathing room between themselves and the Avs, and they can get some with a victory tonight.
5. Our pick to click tonight is Brandon Saad.
He was one of the team’s few standouts against the Bruins and had some of the Blackhawks’ best scoring chances against them. We think he plays the same way tonight and gets rewarded for it.