How less-than-perfect Hawks are killing themselves

  • Mikael Samuelsson is congratulated by teammates Justin Abdelkander (8) and Jonathan Ericsson (52) after his overtime goal.

    Mikael Samuelsson is congratulated by teammates Justin Abdelkander (8) and Jonathan Ericsson (52) after his overtime goal. Associated Press

  • Detroit Red Wings' Dan Cleary celebrates his goal with Henrik Zetterberg, right, during the second period of Game 2.

    Detroit Red Wings' Dan Cleary celebrates his goal with Henrik Zetterberg, right, during the second period of Game 2. Associated Press

 
 
Published5/20/2009 11:42 AM

Maybe it's a play Campbell has made a hundred times, but it was the wrong play to make in overtime of an incredibly critical game for the Hawks. That puck needed to go deep.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville nailed it after Game 1 when he said his team needed to play perfect hockey to beat the Red Wings.

 

That's a lot to ask of any team in any sport, an impossible task, almost, but the Hawks have shown Quenneville to be right as they return home to regroup for Game 3 on Friday, down 2-0 in the Western Conference finals.

Turnovers are killing the Hawks in this series and if they don't stop, the Red Wings, the most opportunistic team in the NHL, just might sweep their way into the Stanley Cup Finals.

In Game 1, it was a Brent Seabrook turnover at the Detroit blue line in the first period with the Hawks leading 1-0 that resulted in a goal by Dan Cleary that changed the momentum of the entire game.

It was 1-1 later when Duncan Keith and Seabrook misplayed a pass behind the net that Johan Franzen stuffed past Nikolai Khabibulin.

It didn't get any better for the Hawks in Game 2.

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Seabrook failed to get the puck deep after a faceoff win by the Hawks in the Detroit end during the second period with the score 1-1 game. Cleary stole the puck and scored on a breakaway against Khabuibulin.

But the worst of the turnovers happened in overtime when Brian Campbell coughed up the puck at the Detroit blue line, resulting in a 3-on-1 the other way and the winning goal by Mikael Samuelsson.

Campbell said after the game it was a play he has made a 100 times, trying to pass across the blue line to Cam Barker, and that he would make the same decision again.

Maybe it's a play Campbell has made a hundred times, but it was the wrong play to make in overtime of an incredibly critical game for the Hawks. That puck needed to go deep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The goaltending of Khabibulin has been less than perfect as well. He has been outplayed by Detroit's Chris Osgood, and he continues to have a save percentage in the playoffs under .900. He sits at .899 after facing 81 shots in the first two games.

Osgood has allowed 4 goals - 1 a no-chance rebound to Kris Versteeg in Game 1, another off the skate of one of his own defensemem by Jonathan Toews in Game 2, and a third a sweet tip-in by Toews through the pads.

The Hawks are down two games even through they have held Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom in check. Zetterberg has a goal, the only one from the four, but it was an empty-netter at the end of Game 1.

Cleary and Samuelsson each have 2 goals and have been difference-makers for the Red Wings.

Keith and Seabrook, so strong in the first two rounds, both are minus-3 and look tired and worn down.

Seabrook has been careless with the puck, and Keith just doesn't look healthy or well. Keith played only 19:45 in Game 1 and 21:48 on Tuesday - well below his average of almost 26 minutes during the regular season.

Did you see Keith try to catch up with Cleary on the breakaway in the second period? He couldn't do it, which isn't like him.

While it doesn't look good for the Hawks, at least they are coming home to the United Center, where the energy from the crowd might be the jolt they need.

If the Hawks must play perfect hockey, the UC is the place they can do it.

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