Okay, so game four = not that great. While I am not big on game-to-game momentum, the third period of Friday night's loss surely had to help the Hawks. If they had lost 4-1, I just see that kind of a win giving Philadelphia too much confidence. Although they still won the game, once again they were reminded that the Hawks are capable of really putting the pressure on their defense to make the stops.
That being said, the Hawks need to figure out a way to trick themselves into playing like they did in Friday's third period all game long.
This series has been very similar to the Nashville series. The Hawk defense has been inconsistent, the offense and passing rather sporadic, and their effort flat-out questionable. Although the Flyers certainly are not the Predators, the Hawks have proven themselves to be the better team when they buckle down and play desperate.
Despite bad defense and arguable goaltending, the Hawks proved this in game one against the Flyers; both teams continued to battle, but the Hawks out-lasted them. In game two, the defense stepped up, as did Antti Niemi, and put the Flyers away in a close low scoring game. For whatever reason, this perseverance did not get off the plane with the Hawks for games three and four in Philly.
My theory is that game three's OT loss deflated the Hawks a bit, and perhaps they got a bit ahead of themselves slobbering at a chance to be up 3-0. Game four started with simply two of the worst periods the Hawks have played, in the playoffs for sure and they even stand out amongst the regular season lowlights as well. The third period at least reminded the Hawks themselves that they can buckle down and manage this Philly team into surrendering goals, and that little bit of confidence that was squeezed out there might just be enough.
More times than not, the Hawks have still looked great following poor performances. Games three and four were the first time in this year's playoffs that the Hawks had lost two games in a row. When the Hawks were down 2-1 to Nashville, they began playing like a desperate team and took control from that point in the series forward. Although the Vancouver series also went six games, the Hawks were seemingly in control from game two on, and there was not the kind of worry that spread due to the Predators, or now the Flyers.
My point is this: (hopefully) game four was a wake-up call. They lost, though they showed themselves they can battle back against Philly and score some clutch goals when it matters most (though they still did not score enough). I think being swept in Philly will lead the Hawks to play desperate the entire game tonight. There will be no blowouts in this series, I think that
has been well established by this point, but if the Hawks simply can play desperate- and I don't mean frantic, but controllably hungry and aggressive- they will win tonight's game on home ice like they should.
It simply seems like the Flyers played harder than the Hawks in Philly, but when the Hawks match that consistent, controlled effort, the Flyers cannot hold them off for long. My message to all of you is: stay positive! We've believed in this team all year long and it hasn't let us down yet. Let's keep the UC rockin' and loud tonight, and fill homes tuning in with positive thoughts and excitement. Our Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup freakin' Finals tied 2-2; there's no time for panic or worry, we have a game to watch them win!