Laughable. Lethargic. Horrendous. Those are a few ways to describe the performance the Chicago Blackhawks put on in the third period of tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Hawks played the first 40 minutes like it would be their last. They shot, they hit, and everything in between. Nick Leddy and Ben Smith each lit the lamp early in the game to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead going into the third period. That is where the train came to a screeching halt and the Kings took advantage of the Hawks’ lack of heart for the final 20 minutes of Game 2.
Where did they go wrong? It’s not every day that a team with so much momentum after the first two periods crashes and burns in the third. Simple, the Hawks did not keep the game the way they played it and forgot their fundamentals.
Brandon Bollig took a terrible penalty, no surprise there, to put the Kings on the power play and eventually tie the game. Bollig has been making bonehead decisions the entire postseason and his team is paying for it. Plain and simple, Brandon Bollig has his place in the lineup, that place just is not in the playoffs. Bollig is an enforcer that at times can make plays that no other NHL tough guy can make, but when he feels like he needs to do something to spark the team, he doesn’t try to play better, he just hits and takes unnecessary penalties.It’s time to bench Bollig and let Jeremy Morin get a chance to prove himself. Morin played at the end of the regular season in the absence of Patrick Kane and filled that void nicely. Morin can do great things for the Hawks, he just needs to be given the chance to do it.
I know that many fans will be pointing their fingers at Crawford for the loss. Is Crawford to blame? Somewhat, but by no means should Crow take all of the blame. All goalies have off nights, I’ve been one, I know. No goaltender will be able to play each game at the pinnacle of their abilities. Crawford had an off night and that’s it. He had 18 saves on 19 shots in the first two periods but the momentum switched on King’s forward Justin Williams’ goal at the end of the second to cut the lead in half. After that, the wheels just came off and the Hawks had no way to repair them. Professional goaltenders are able to brush off bad games and bounce back so I have no doubt in my mind that Crawford will show up Saturday ready to play.
The offense was sluggish at best in the third. The Hawks only had six shots in the third period and only one really had a good chance of going in the net. King’s goaltender Jonathan Quick was playing a solid game despite the two goals he gave up earlier in the game, and his great play continued in the third to dismantle the Hawks offense.
The Hawks need to change the way they played in the third period if they want to even have a chance at winning Game 3. The all-around play in the third was the polar opposite of how they played in the first two periods. The series shifts to Los Angeles this Saturday, meaning that the Hawks need a win out in Hollywood if they want to take back home ice advantage. The Hawks have the tools to bounce back this series, they’ve done it before, it’s just if the Hawks will let the Kings defeat them by defeating themselves.