Not only the game, but they also tried to choke away their season and their shot at repeating as Stanley Cup champions.
The Hawks took a 2-0 lead less than four minutes into the game and had a 3-1 lead in the first period. It’s reasonable to expect a championship team to protect that kind of lead at home in a must-win game, don’t you think?
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- Michal Handzus
- Joel Quenneville
- Andrew Shaw
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But no. Didn’t happen. The Hawks let the Kings catch them and pass them in the second period, the fifth period in the last four games in which the Kings have stung the Hawks for multiple goals.
Saad had a goal and two assists. Shaw had two assists. Kane had four assists and was breathtakingly dominant every shift. Every shift. The whole line, in fact, was dominant every shift.
And it almost was every shift for that line, as Hawks coach Joel Quenneville threw them out there every other change. If you have a big gun, shoot it. The Hawks haven’t had many nine-point lines lately.
You know who else would let the Hawks choke away their season?
And you know who else wouldn’t let the Hawks choke away their chance at repeating?
Michal Handzus, that’s who.
Yes, that Michael Handzus, the Michal Handzus who roofed the winning backhander in double-overtime when he shouldn’t have dressed for the game if you ask me.
Handzus’ season has been defined as an albatross: The only skater capable of holding down Kane.
Handzus’ season has been defined as being one of Quenneville’s pets: He’s old and slow on a team that stresses speed but refuses to play some of its fastest youth.
And then Handzus was getting so little ice time that it made no sense to dress him. Quenneville gave him less than five minutes in Game 4 and less than 15 minutes of the 82:04 in Game 5.
The Kings were coming with a lot of great young skaters, such as Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, part of a line that has killed the Hawks. The Kings were coming with fast legs four lines deep.
Quenneville, however, was giving Handzus so little ice time, along with other wasted roster spots taken up by Kris Versteeg and Brandon Bollig, that the Hawks were skating with one line tied being their backs.
And of course it goes double-overtime to further stress the nine forwards you could trust.
So you had to wonder why would Quenneville refused to scratch Handzus.
And then came the answer. Then came the miracle. The Blackhawks’ season was saved by the 2,000-year-old man.