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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Trouble in Chi-Town

Wild on Sports
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Trouble in Chi-Town
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

After getting out to a 1-0 series lead to start the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a tricky situation heading into Wednesday night's game four. Losing two tight games to the Boston Bruins is just the tip of the iceberg. It was more or less expected going into the series that this one would go 6 or 7 -- fans thought so, the media thought so, even the teams by-in-large thought so.

The real trouble is not necessarily the result thus far, although they do find themselves in a virtual must win situation Wednesday night; the trouble instead is the personal on the ice.

In a very surprise last minute decision before game three, star winger Marian Hossa was scratched from the game with an appearent "upper body injury." Given the time of year any tidbit of injury news is about as vague as possible, but the news regardless of the extent is very serious if you are a Blackhawks fan. Hossa is tied for the team lead in point this post season with 15 (7 goals, 8 assists). More importantly, he is a key piece to what the other offensive talents around him are able to do.

Jonathan Towes has been a ghost in this series. Patrick Kane has had his opportunities but failed to capitalize. Case and point:  missing almost an entirely open net on a 3-on-1 during the third period of game three. No Hossa for any length of time means Chicago is going to need a heck of a lot more out of both of those guys offensively if they are to have any chance in solving the puzzle that has been Tukka Rask this postseason.

Boston’s disciplined, grinding, physical two-way hockey has been a major recipe for success thus far and has frustrated every team that they have played. Many thought going into this series that if there was a team that would find holes in that defensive system it would be Joel Quenneville's Blackhawk team.

One area that has clearly been an achilles heal for Chicago has been the power play. 0 for 5 again in game three. That puts them 0 for 19 in their last six games, a statistic that just cannot continue if Chicago wants to get back into this series. It is rare enough that Boston would give up five shorthanded opportunities. You have to capitalize on your opponents mistakes if you expect to win.

Coach Queeneville split up the dynamic duo of Towes and Kane, even for the majority of powerplay time in game three. One has to wonder if this match-up game of trying to keep one of them away from Bruins defenseman Zedno Chara is worth breaking up your most dangerous scoring tandem. It has not worked thus far as the two have combined for just 1 point in the series.

What ever the answer is, the Blackhawks need to find something different for game four. If they're going back to Chicago in a 3-1 hole on Saturday they might as well throw in the white towel. Troubles a bruin' -- its time to get back to the drawing board.

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