April 16, 2017, 6:44 PM ET [58 Comments]
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The temptation in writing a blog about the state of the Hawks' Western Conference Quarterfinal series versus Nashville is to slip into post-mortem mode.
But, it may be a game too early.
As a friend (whose hockey judgment and objectivity I trust) said to me last last night, the Hawks have come back in series before. Although, honestly, in my many years (hell, decades) of following this team, I don't recall them coming back in a series after starting off 0-2 at home.
But, can they? Sure. Absolutely.
Will they? The gulf between plausibility and possibility is pretty wide, especially when you consider how badly beaten the Hawks were in what was essentially a must-in Game 2.
Still the Hawks are a team that can get and stay hot. And they have won in Nashville many times, including this season. At minimum (and obviously) they need a split in Music City. Taking two games evens the series, reclaims home ice advantage and likely the psychology of the series.
Stlll, it feels like a very tall order for the team that was basically booed off home ice last night.
What follows are some ideas. Ideas that crossed my mind and/or I heard some others mention since last night.
The 800 pound gorilla in the room is this:
1) Start Scott Darling
As I tweeted last night, before Corey Crawford sort of melted down in the latter stages of the debacle of Game 2, it was hard to blame him for how ineffectually the team as a whole was playing.
All that said, Crawford hasn't been at the tip top of his game either. And since the team isn't scoring anyway, why not see if Darling gives the team a lift? You really have nothing to lose. He has given the Hawks a lift before—most memorably in Nashville two years ago.
2) Bench Johnny Oduya for Michal Kempny
This one's not as easy. There's a punitive temptation to pull Oduya for just not playing well. But once that subsides, you remember that Kempny spent his first season in North America learning on the job—and there is an argument he still has a lot to learn. He is mistake prone. And the playoffs are no place for a defenseman to learn the ropes.
All that said, Kempny is über-athletic, has a hard and good point shot, and plays a heavy style. He, like Darling, could give the team a little lift.
And it isn't like Oduya and Brian Campbell aren't making mistakes anyway.
Other than that, the Hawks seemed to get something going on the new line with Marcus Kruger, Dennis Rasmussen and Ryan Hartman together. That, in turn, went with loading up Jonathan Toews with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.
And that leads to maybe the biggest potential change:
3) Show up ready to play, take it to Nashville, and get the first goal
Do that, and Game 3, at least, gets real interesting—and winnable—real fast.
Fail to do that and well, you saw Games 1 and 2 went—in Chicago's building.
I'll have a preview tomorrow.