Maybe it’s me, but the Blackhawks looked tired in Game 3.
Losing faceoffs and puck battles along the boards will do that to you. Getting out-skated at your own game will do that to you. The Boston Bruins will do that to you with their physical game that can make you regret your chosen profession.
The troubling thing is, something similar happened in Game 2. The Hawks dominated the first period, but their modest 1-0 lead was wiped out, and they lost their dominant skating advantage and then they lost the game.
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But wait. There’s more bad news if you’re a trend player: The Hawks seem to win about one period a game in this series.
They won the third period in Game 1. They won the third overtime of the Game 1, another game in itself. Add that to the selected periods of Games 2 and 3 in which the Hawks controlled play, and suddenly they have a bigger problem than Stupid Coaching Tricks over Marian Hossa.
Their skating and consistency disappear for long stretches, as if they were Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The way it looks to me, the Hawks have been dominated by the Bruins a lot more often than the other way around. Thanks, lousy power-play unit and horrible faceoff men.
Not only have the Hawks lost the faceoff battle in every game of the final, but they have lost more each game. After losing 51 percent in the triple-overtime opener, the Hawks lost 54 percent in the next game on their ice, and then came the 71 percent pantsing in Game 3.
Without the puck after a majority of the faceoffs, the Hawks chased instead of working their puck-possession game. The Hawks seemed to expend so much energy trying to regain the puck that they don’t have the requisite strength and sharpness to do something good with it. That was a big reason one of the highest-scoring teams in the league failed to score in Game 3.
Another big reason the Hawks haven’t scored since the first period of Game 2 -- six long, empty periods ago -- is the way the Bruins protect the slot, or the house. Whatever you call it, the Bruins aren’t letting anybody in, certainly not easily.
Whatever space the Hawks gain by using their speed wide, the Bruins refuse to give them anything in front. The Hawks refuse to demand it. They refuse to force it. You can’t when you’re tired.
The Bruins wear down opponents. They check maniacally in waves. They execute wonderfully, hit fiercely and generally make things easier for goalie Tukka Rask.
That makes the Bruins' slot one of the toughest areas in the game. That’s where the Hawks have to fight to get in the hardest game of the season.
The Bruins get there. The Bruins park in the Hawks’ slot. The Bruins seem to score all their goals from the slot or at least between the faceoff dots.
The Hawks have done it before. Andrew Shaw and Dave Bolland both got to the slot to finish off the Bruins in the third overtime of Game 1.
It takes work and energy. The Hawks have to bring that tonight and bring it for three periods, even if they haven’t managed two consecutive periods of controlling a game with their style. They have no choice, really.
The Hawks might’ve been fatigued from three consecutive overtime games before losing Game 3 in regulation. But so what? They can rest during the summer --- a summer that’s trending as if it’s coming soon.