Thursday, May 20, 2010
By Chris Boden
Just when the Blackhawks thought they were home, theyre back in a hotel.
Ask any Hawks fan if they like the idea of Joel Quenneville finding them some rooms downtown, and theyll probably flash a thumbs-up, based on their NHL playoff record-tying seven-game road win streak, compared to their 3-3 record this post-season after the Greatest Anthem in Sports. Coach Qs letting them sleep in their own beds (theyre only being diverted between Friday mornings skate and their return to the United Center for the game a few hours later), and there didnt seem to be any grumbling about the idea in the locker room following Thursdays practice. So fire up the Mario Kart for a few hours just be careful with the pregame hotel room wrestling matches, boys. And Brian Campbell said when I (jokingly) asked after Tuesdays win in San Jose about the prospect of hotel time at home, that theyve run out of movies to watch (even chick flicks). So if the boys are gonna get together and pop in a pregame DVD, whats their best bet? Keep it clean. Slapshot? Jaws? Hes Just Not That Into You?
Maybe the best video of all is the way they were ALL over the ice Tuesday night in San Jose. If they re-enact their commitment to checking on both ends, which created longer stretches of puck possession, and fewer shots Antti Niemi had to face, theyll win. Lets see how Dr. Quennevilles formula works out for home success. The Sharks have lost two straight for the first time in these playoffs, but theres a reason they won the West in the regular season. They vow to get mad, play better and, as Dan Boyle says, make a figurative collective gesture with one of their fingers to the naysayers to prove them wrong. But their belief level of whether they can beat the Hawks might be getting tested, if it hasnt been already. Especially beating them four out of the next five. Theyve lost five of six against the Blackhawks this season, including all four in their Tank. The only time they defeated them this season was when the Hawks outshot them 47-14 at the United Center. Included were a couple of bothersome defeats that could get in a teams head, too like blowing a 3-1 second period lead at the United Center, getting blown-out 7-2 at home (trailing 7-0 at one point), and falling in overtime at home after rallying from a 3-0 deficit. Then theres all the falling short of expectations baggage theyve carried for awhile now.
Both teams say theyre treating Game 3 as a must win. Its more like must or bust for San Jose. Unless theyre the Flyers, and the Hawks are the Bruins.
Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.