An inconsistent bottom half of the lineup at forward has been one of the Blackhawks’ problems since the season started, and it was again on Sunday.
The fourth line of Jake Dowell, Bryan Bickell and Fernando Pisani was a factor in the 4-3 loss to Detroit, and not in a good way. Each was minus-3 with Hawks coach Joel Quenneville giving them surprisingly important ice time.
Third-line winger Viktor Stalberg made one of the day’s biggest mistakes when his errant centering pass to no one turned into Tomas Holmstrom’s tying goal after the puck traveled all the way around the boards to the wide-open Detroit winger.
“You’ve got to make sure in the offensive zone you put the puck in good areas,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “A good puck possession play turned into a semi-break.”
The question now heading into the first round of the playoffs against Vancouver is the health status of Dave Bolland (concussion) and Troy Brouwer (shoulder), if they might be available for Game 1 on Wednesday and who they would replace.
Dowell and Pisani could be the odd men out.
However, Bolland has yet to be cleared for contact while Brouwer hasn’t skated since hurting his shoulder last Tuesday at Montreal.
This was the initial season of the NHL rule change where the first tiebreaker in the standings was wins in either regulation or overtime.
Under the old system the Hawks would have clinched a playoff spot before Sunday because they had 44 wins to Dallas’ 42.
The Hawks finished with 38 non-shootout wins, while the Stars had 37.
It was a rule that could have cost the Hawks a playoff spot had Dallas defeated Minnesota on Sunday.
“I’m not complaining one bit about that,” Joel Quenneville said.
The Hawks saw a more motivated Detroit team than the one that failed to show up on Friday at Joe Louis Arena in a 4-2 loss.
“We obviously weren’t very impressed with the way we played at home,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We haven’t been very good for a while, and yet we think we have a good team and we think we know how to play, and so it was good to see us play here today.
“It was another game when they’re in playoff mode and we’re not, we’re stuck in a spot, but I thought guys showed good pride and good urgency and played the game the right way.”
The Red Wings certainly appeared to relish the opportunity to keep the Hawks out of the playoffs.
“That team was pretty desperate to end our season,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think that was their motivation and they did the best they could.”
The Hawks outshot Detroit 17-9 in the third period, but the Red Wings scored on two of their shots to match the Hawks’ 2 goals.
The Red Wings led 2-1 going to the third period.
“They threw everything at us there in the third period and we withstood it, and that’s a great sign for us heading into the playoffs,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said.
The hot and humid weather on Sunday didn’t help the ice at the United Center.
“Sometimes you play in rinks like Montreal and Detroit and the ice seems so nice out there and you think in Chicago they’d have good ice too, but today was definitely choppy and the puck was bouncing out there,” Patrick Kane said. “It was tough to make plays.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.