What The Hawks Need To Do Going Into Game 3

Well, here we are. Hawks are down 2-0 in the series and they haven’t even scored ONE goal. Not one. Pekka Rinne has two more points than all of the Hawks combined.

It’s also become clear that Hawks fans are rapidly losing hope. They even booed the team during the last game, which rarely happens at home. But to be honest, I can understand why they did. I have been posting polls on twitter (@madhouse_update) for each game asking people who they think is going to win and the results show that fans are slowly losing faith in the team’s ability to make a comeback.

The poll hasn’t ended yet. The results are currently at 55 percent for Chicago; 45 percent for Nashville.

To be fair, I posted this one during the game while all others were posted before, and Nashville had already scored. This was more to see if people thought the Hawks could make the comeback; not what they thought going into the game.

The poll hasn’t ended yet, currently at 86 percent Nashville; 14 percent Chicago

Is this it for the Hawks? Are they done?

No. I wouldn’t count them out so fast. I was talking to two Hawks fans yesterday and they were both disappointed in the results thus far. One thought this was it because the Hawks just can’t seem to “get it together.” The other pointed out that the Hawks have made a comeback before and can do it again. It’s true. Take a look:

2011 Conference Quarterfinals: They trailed Vancouver 3-0 and ended up forcing a game seven.

2013 Conference Semifinals: They trailed Detroit 3-1 and won the series 4-3.

2014 Conference Quarterfinals: They trailed St. Louis 2-0 and won the series 4-2.

2014 Conference Finals: They trailed Los Angeles 3-1 and forced a Game 7.

2015 Conference Finals: Trailed Anaheim 3-2 and won the series 4-3

2016 Conference Quarterfinals: Trailed St. Louis 3-1 and forced a Game 7.

This situation seems to be a reoccurring theme with the Hawks. But what has to happen for them to “get it together?”

I would start with pulling Corey Crawford. Hear me out…

The way the series has gone so far has no negative reflection of Crawford’s skill or game. He has been solid in the net considering how badly the Hawks have been outplayed. He doesn’t need to be pulled because of the amount of goals he has let in or because he is letting the team down. It is simply because it could generate momentum. Sometimes, for some reason, teams respond better with a different presence in net. It switches something up that is more significant than just switching the lines, which Coach Q did in Game 2 and it didn’t make much of a difference. There’s no reason Crawford can’t return to net, but right now, this is a switch worth considering.

They need to follow their own advice.

After each game, the players have been making statements about what they need to do, what they are going to do, and how they felt about the game.

Judging by these interviews, it seems that the Hawks know what they need to do. But they need to turn that talk into action. When they show that they know what needs to be fixed, but don’t make those changes in the next game, it makes you wonder what is holding them back. If they can’t even take their own advice, what is going to be the key in sparking that motivation and drive?

Don’t stay comfortable.

The Hawks are clearly an incredible hockey team. They have great players, a great coach, great fans, and a great record. They have become the team to beat. But they can’t take the playoffs lightly. Obviously, I can’t speak for what the players are actually feeling, but I can give my opinion on what it seems like while watching the games. It seems like the Hawks are too comfortable. They seem to be relying on the thought of “oh we can pull it off, we always do,” without actually doing anything to make that happen. I feel like that mentality needs to be reserved for the fans. The Hawks need to play each game feeling like they are the underdogs and they have something to prove. Take the Toronto Maple Leafs, for example, they have hit the ground running and they aren’t handing the Washington Capitals the win. The Capitals are the projected Stanley Cup Champs for a lot of people and the Leafs have proved themselves as an opponent that can’t be taken lightly. That’s because the Leafs have something to prove. They finally have a playoff spot and they haven’t won a cup since 1967. The Hawks need that kind of drive. They need to play with the strength and motivation of a team who has had a 49-year drought.

Keep it clean.

The Hawks have no room to be taking stupid penalties. Especially like the one Ryan Hartman took in game two.

While I don’t think it warrants a suspension, this is an example of poor self-control on Hartman’s part. Being a young player, maybe he’s not able to control his frustrations in these types of high-stake situations as easily as a seasoned veteran player, especially since he plays an aggressive game. But when your team has yet to score a goal after two games of the series there is no room for these types of penalties.

Listen, it’s fine to keep up an aggressive style of play. That’s definitely an asset to any team and has the potential to drum up some motivation, especially at a time like this. But that should be applied to big hits and crashing the net, not to punch somebody in the face while they are down. He should know better.

Lastly, they just need to want it more.

This is really what it comes down to. Nashville wants it more than the Hawks and it’s obvious to see. I don’t know what it’s truly going to take to get the players to mentally flip that switch and play like they want it. That is something only each individual player can know about himself. But whatever needs to happen, needs to happen quick.

I still have faith. The Hawks have made a comeback before and there’s no reason why they can’t do it again.

Feature Photo: Nashville Predators Viktor Arvidsson and Chicago Blackhawks  Artem Anisimov in Game One.
Photo via: Chris Sweda-Chicago Tribune

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