Detroit wins 2-0 and shakes the Hawks will to win - FOX 35 News Orlando

Detroit wins 2-0 and shakes the Hawks will to win

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Detroit Red Wings took a commanding three games to one lead after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0.

The Red Wings have gotten very good goaltending and to a man have performed their system with precision. Detroit is not the mirror image of last year's Stanley Cup winners the Los Angeles Kings but they are playing with the same relentless team defense. Many times the club that is playing consistently well is the recipient of some good fortune as well. Good luck or not, the Wings deserve to be where they are at, one win away from playing in the Conference Championship.

Many are shocked the Blackhawks are one loss away from elimination. After defeating the Wild in five games, my thinking was the Blackhawks won but didn't show their best. After Game 1 versus Detroit, in which the Hawks played well it appeared as if they were dialed in and ready to play effective hockey. As it turns out the Red Wings were a tired club and didn't put up much of a fight over the final 30 minutes of Game 1.

What has happened since is Detroit has been better coached and at all levels, have taken the Hawks out of their comfort zone. To a man the Red Wings have done their jobs and have been the more consistent team.

This season the Chicago offense relied on quick accurate passes from their defensemen to start the charge. It wasn't as in the past where long stretch passes were needed to create good scoring chances. GM Stan Bowman did a nice job of building depth on the blue line and from one through six the Blackhawks had the best passing defense in the NHL. Now the Hawks offense is back to looking for long stretch passes to spring forwards, because the Wings have caused a change.

Detroit's aggressive forecheck has made the Chicago passing become below average. The Blackhawks offense starts with their defense and Mike Babcock knew the same. He has his group aggressively forechecking and disrupting the Hawk defensemen. Every line for Detroit has been able to attack Chicago defenders and cause them to pass poorly and look hesitant. This means the Hawks can't use their speed and the game tempo isn't what they prefer.

Whether it has been Joel Quenneville changing lines before and or during games, the Hawks are not able to hit full stride. They play well in spurts or maybe for a period, but at some point the Red Wings cause them to stumble. The Hawks were highly effective this season because they had sound structure, they played well shift to shift in almost every regular season game. Detroit has made the Hawks look like a different team.

The Red Wings have been able to impose their will on the Blackhawks and this has led to frustration and a lack of goal production. Whether it is Jonathan Toews taking three poor penalties in a row or the scrums after whistles, the frustration is evident.

Quenneville has been known to juggle lines during games but he started off this series reacting aggressively. From the benching of Viktor Stalberg to putting line combinations together that are different than at any point in the regular season, Quenneville seems to be reaching.

In the last couple of games some of the changes have looked desperate. Often times a team will mirror the nature of their head coach and that could be happening now. Quenneville doesn't look confident and neither does his team, especially the top players.

Quenneville had the club with the best record as they played the most consistent hockey throughout the year. Yet he was very quick to change things up. In my book Quenneville has been overreactive but there are some reasons for it.

It is safe to say the last nine games, going back to Round 1, is the poorest stretch the Hawks have played all year. In my view taking out the injury plagued Wild in five games wasn't a great accomplishment.

Quenneville knew the same and was quick to try to light a fire under his club for the next series. There is a fine line between pushing players to succeed and knocking them off their game. So far the latter has happened.

It is time to stop questioning the play of Corey Crawford and look at the big picture.

Bowman did very little to improve his club at the trade deadline. His reasons were based on giving the group that had played so well in the regular season a chance to succeed in the playoffs. Bowman by nature seems to be more of an analytical plodder than an aggressive GM.

Unless the Blackhawks rally and win this series and the next, Bowman's thinking was wrong. Those who were in the camp of not believing the Hawks were built to win a grueling tight checking series in the playoffs look to be correct.

The Blackhawks haven't had an effective power play for the last few years. They have not been able to win in the playoffs either, but the impotent power play is not the only cause.

Don't misunderstand, the scattered nature of how the Hawks attack with the man advantage is difficult to watch. Beyond not scoring a goal, the power play doesn't come close on many occasions and they lose momentum. It is bad not to be able to score with the man advantage but to disrupt the rhythm for following shifts is even worse.

Power play ineffectiveness is on the coaching staff and also and on Bowman.

The Hawks front office chose to go into the season without a true second line center. The Blackhawks also didn't have a large body with hands that can screen a goalie effectively. Those holes didn't seem to matter much during the regular season but when playing the same team over and over in a series, weaknesses can be exploited.

The current results may indicate it was the perfect storm of decision makers and players being too comfortable. Once facing a team which is well-coached and competes hard on every shift the challenge was too much.

There is no real way to paint a rosy picture, it is what it is for now but the Hawks aren't done yet. Although statistically there is less than a 10 percent chance they will rally from a three games to one deficit, there is some chance. The Hawks still have the talent and the seventh game would be played at the United Center.

If the Hawks don't advance it will be a disappointing end to a wonderful regular season and rest assured there will be changes. Winning championships is the goal not having the best record, at least it should be.

I will be back on Sunday and follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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