If there’s anything certain about the 2013 Blackhawks postseason, it’s that almost nothing is certain.
The exception being that they fear nothing and are intimidated by no one team or situation.
And that includes the Boston Bruins.
After all, they have seen the enemy and it is usually their own lack of desperation, focus or understanding. Still, there is nothing the Hawks seem unable to overcome.
“We’ve had an interesting playoffs,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. “Had an ordinary start in the first series, on the ropes against Detroit. I thought we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along in these playoffs.”
Maybe the regular season just went too well for them, but the Hawks slept through the first round against Minnesota and tossed their sticks on the ice against Detroit, unprepared for the pace and urgency of the second round, despite a warning from their coach and captain.
“We played great hockey throughout the regular season. We were able to get to the top of the league and stay there,” said Jonathan Toews. “You know that you’re not going to go through a lot of things (in the regular season) you go through (during) the playoffs.
“But I don’t think you get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup without going through moments like we have. You’ve got to persevere. Even though (Los Angeles) was just a five-game series, we felt like there were some tough moments, too.”
Down 3-1 in the series to Detroit, the Hawks were tied 1-1 in the second period of Game 5 and found a way. In Game 6, they were 20 minutes away from elimination and found a way. After having a goal taken away late in Game 7, the Hawks found a way in overtime and advanced to play the defending champs.
“Every time, we dealt with it head on,” Toews said. “Coming back from that 3-1 deficit against Detroit gives you a lot of confidence.
“Here we are again. We got a great chance to go back to where we want to be. We know there’s going to be some more tough moments that we’ll have to battle through. We’re confident we can do that as a team.”
The ups and downs in the 2013 postseason have been matched only by the downs and ups.
The Hawks could not have played a better third period in Game 4 in Los Angeles without Duncan Keith, undoubtedly their most impressive 20 minutes thus far.
They came out in Game 5 with an outstanding first period — and as back-to-back periods go, it doesn’t get any better than that. But as has been the case for much of the playoffs, the Hawks’ very best is often followed by their very worst — or least some of their most sluggish.
That happened in Game 5 against Los Angeles, when they were outplayed from the second period through the first overtime, when only Corey Crawford’s brilliance kept them from having to travel back to Los Angeles.
But even the agony of giving up a tying goal with 9.4 seconds left in regulation did not crush the spirit of a team that seems able to bounce back from any disappointment or difficulty.
“At first, it’s tough giving up a goal that late,” said Patrick Kane. “I actually thought L.A. took it to us in the first overtime. But I think everyone was pretty confident, to be honest with you.
“You’ve seen that before in Game 6 a few years ago (in the Final against Philadelphia). (Scott) Hartnell tied it up late. We scored in the next overtime.
“This was kind of the same thing. With nine seconds left it hurts, maybe takes the wind out of your sails a little bit. For us, to hang in there the first overtime was huge. Crawford made some big saves and we ended up pulling it out.”
It’s what the Hawks do. They fight through adversity and persevere.
The Bruins can say very much the same thing, and a few weeks ago the guess here would have been that the Hawks don’t have the physical or mental toughness to handle what the Bruins will bring to the UC on Wednesday night, but this is a different team now and there is just too much evidence to support the belief that the Hawks will find a way to beat the Bruins.
Both teams deserve to be here, both teams believe they will win and both teams are certain they have what it takes to be the champs.
It is all in place for a long, difficult and entertaining series, but the Hawks have shown that hardship is their friend, that difficulty only makes them better.
That’s why the pick here is Chicago in seven games.
ŸListen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score’s “Hit and Run” show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.