After Saturday night, the Hawks have now fallen behind 1-0 in four consecutive playoff series'. The Game One they did win, vs. Calgary in the opening round last year, was also a poor effort for most of the night before Martin Havlat tied the game late and won it in overtime.
Point is, this team tends to have trouble facing a new playoff opponent.
Is it coaching? Mindset? Coincidence?
All three of the above theories have been discussed among Blackhawks nation on Sunday, but the answer is irrelevant at this point.
The Hawks, for what seems like the fifth time in these playoffs already, face a "must win" game on Monday night at the United Center. A loss would send them to Vancouver down 0-2 against a very, very good hockey team.
The Canucks have probably the most talented goaltender in the world in Roberto Luongo. He might be mentally weak, but when he's on, he is the best. They also have the league's leading scorer in Henrik Sedin. For you ESPN viewers that have only heard of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, Sedin had more points than both of them. How can you not be ready for this team, let alone for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
It continues to blow my mind every time the Hawks lay an egg in a huge playoff game against a good hockey team. The postgame interviews are almost as annoying as the game itself. Most players said something along the lines of "Yea, they were really good....we need to be more intense next time and win more battles." Ya think?
Some Hawk players also seem hesitant to give the Canucks too much credit, instead choosing to blame themselves. Jonathan Toews said on Sunday that "It's not about what they did. It's about what we didn't do." That might be partially true, but regardless, that comment and lack of recognition of a very well-played game is likely to piss off an already angry opponent.
If the Hawks had to come out intense for Game 1, they need to be foaming at the mouth for Game 2. Make no mistake, the Canucks smell blood right now. They owned the Hawks in Game 1, and have a chance to potentially put this series away early against a team they hate. They'll be ready, there's no doubt about that.
If you're looking for optimism, there are plenty of reasons for it. The Hawks did come out firing last night. They owned that game for at least the first ten minutes. If just one of those many chances find the back of the net, the game changes entirely. Unfortunately, Luongo said no to every Chicago chance, and the Canucks took the game over from their first goal forward. The law of averages tells us that if the Hawks come out with that same offensive firepower in Game 2, at least one is bound to sneak in, which would swing the game in the Hawks' favor.
Another reason to keep the faith is the Hawks' recent history in must win games. Against Nashville in Games 2 and 4, the Hawks faced critical games in which a loss would put their season in dire straits. In both games, Antti Niemi had a shutout and the Hawks won handily.
Game 2 is different, though. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Vancouver is NOT Nashville. They have a better goaltender, more speed, and more scoring touch. The Hawks got away with being inconsistent vs. Nashville, but the same won't be true against this team.
This "good game, bad game" trend can't continue if the Hawks want to participate in the third round. The Hawks need to wake up, realize they're 12 wins from having their names etched onto the most coveted trophy in sports, and bring their A-game.
Potential Line-up Changes?
ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reported on Sunday night that the Hawks "may" be moving Dustin Byfuglien back to defense and inserting Adam Burish back into the lineup for Game 2. If this happened, Jordan Hendry would be the likely scratch as Joel Quenneville continues to demonstrate his lack of playoff confidence in him.
If Buff does get moved back to defense, I still would imagine they'll stick him in front of Luongo on power plays.
-JT (Follow me on Twitter @JTalarico328 for Blackhawks thoughts, news and updates)