For the last 12 hours or so, I’ve gotten dozens of texts, emails, and phone calls from Hawk fans. “Is it time to panic?” “Why are the Hawks getting outplayed at times?”
Well, the answer I give is always the same. No, it’s not time to panic. Keep in mind, the Flyers didn’t get their names picked out of a hat to appear in the Stanley Cup Finals. They earned it the same way the Hawks did. They deserve to be there…maybe more than any of us thought.
Philly’s relentless forechecking and pressure have not allowed the Hawks to dominate in the offensive zone and cycle the puck like they have against other opponents. They pressure the point, and force the Hawks defensemen to make quick decisions with the puck. They’ve also done a great job at taking away the breakout pass, which is truly the Hawks’ bread and butter.
The Flyers, through three games, have proven to be the Hawks biggest challenge of the playoffs. They have played extremely well, and have outplayed the Blackhawks for much of the series, but the Blackhawks are still up 2-1 in the series, and are still the better team.
It’s hard be objective when analyzing your own team. Think of it this way. Replace the Blackhawks with the Red Wings. As an outsider, I think most of us would still call the Wings the prohibitive favorites. They are a far more talented team than Philly, and have a 2-1 series lead. So are the Blackhawks.
Now, I’m not saying Philly CAN’T win. Far from it. They’ve proven they belong in the Finals. Game 4 looms large for both teams. A win for the Flyers puts all of the pressure back on the Hawks heading to the United Center. We’ve seen how the Hawks play when the pressure is on at home.