Blackhawks can't solve the Bruins and are shutout 2-0 in Game 3 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Blackhawks can't solve the Bruins and are shutout 2-0 in Game 3

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In Game 3, the Chicago Blackhawks offense was completely shut down as the Boston Bruins skated to a 2-0 victory.

Marian Hossa was a late scratch and his condition was later revealed to be an upper body injury. Hossa's loss didn't help the cause but the Bruins have been the superior club for most of the series. By my count in nine of 13 periods of hockey, including overtime, Boston has had the edge in play.

The Hossa injury caught everyone off guard. Joel Quenneville commented after Game 2 his team was healthy. Then Monday night following the loss he mentioned of being aware during the day that Hossa playing would be a game time decision. After Hossa took part in the pre-game skate it was decided he wouldn't play.

What makes the incident sketchier is Ben Smith, who was inserted in the lineup as Hossa's replacement, did not skate in the warm-ups. It seems that if there was any chance Hossa would be unable to start Smith should have skated with the team before the game.

It's too early for Blackhawk fans to panic but the warning flags should be up. Monday night's game wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Some great work by Corey Crawford kept the Hawks in the contest. Once again Tuukka Rask was in fine form but he wasn't severely tested. The Blackhawk forwards were kept out on the perimeter for the entire night.

Boston doesn't score much and they don't have to the way the Hawks offense and power play has been performing. What the Bruins do well is play a simple effective game night after night. They have been the more consistent club, it really hasn't been close. When Boston does score their chances have come from prime goal scoring areas, places where the Hawks forwards can't seem to find.

Quenneville has been reactive in the playoffs and maybe that's because he feels he has the superior team. Maybe Quenneville is caught up in the notion he has lot of depth and thus many lineup choices. In many ways it is hard to argue with that thinking but when Chicago centers win only 16 of 56 faceoffs for 29%, there is an issue with depth.

My thinking in picking the Hawks to win the series is Dave Bolland would be a difference-maker and he was in Game 3, but the wrong way. Monday night Bolland had a turnover which led to Boston's first goal, and was whistled for a cross checking and two tripping infractions. On one penalty Boston went on a 5 on 3 which was officially over before they scored but Bolland being in the box didn't help. Actually Bolland hasn't done much to help the Hawks cause since Game 1 and he isn't alone.

Quenneville in a bizarre choice started the game with Jonathan Toews centering for Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. Maybe Quenneville was thinking the trio would shut down the Bruins top line and the Hawks could win a low-scoring affair. Kruger and Frolik have been two of the best Hawk forwards in the series but they are fourth line players that don't score very often. Zdeno Chara was still out versus Toews and that didn't help the Hawks captain either.

Many thought Quenneville would play Toews with Patrick Kane. Toews hasn't scored a goal in a long time and chances of that happening with Kruger and Frolik aren't as good as with Kane and Patrick Sharp, or Bryan Bickell.

Sharp was the best Hawks forward Monday night but he, like Kane, is playing with a handicap. Mikal Handzus was a band-aid trade deadline addition. He did his job for the most part in the beginning, winning faceoffs and playing good defense. As time wore on it became obvious Handzus was made available before the deadline because he can't bring the same top effort game in and game out.

Father Time waits for no man and at this stage of his career on a Cup Finals team Handzus has no business being a second line center. Playing him with Kane and Sharp is like trying to use a tugboat to water ski.

At this point Handzus has no business in the lineup at all. He hasn't been winning faceoffs and Monday night was an awful 0-10 at the dot. Handzus usually can play decent defense but the Hawks need goal scoring. If Quenneville wanted to use Toews in more of a defensive role than his other top offensive players needed to be put in a position to succeed. That is hardly the case for Kane and Sharp when they are teamed with Handzus.

Bickell has completely dropped off the radar grid. From once being talked about as a playoff MVP candidate, Bickell has now disappeared. Quenneville doesn't seem to have much confidence in him of late. Of the Blackhawks only Viktor Stalberg who replaced Brandon Bollig for Game 3 played fewer minutes. Bickell had only 11:43 in ice time, slightly more than Stalberg's 11:02 as neither stood out.

My thinking was the Blackhawks would find a way to win low scoring games but that isn't going to happen by recording only one goal in six plus periods. To be successful the third line with Bolland needed to be a difference maker and for the most part has not been. Also the Hawks needed to win close to 50% of faceoffs, and in Game 3 that was hardly the case.

Things can change with a rebound effort in Game 4 on Wednesday night but that won't be easy if Hossa is still out of the lineup.

Most of the better players for the Hawks have disappeared and the offense has been virtually nonexistent. Those two elements are trademarks of teams that lose in the playoffs.

Quenneville and his group will need to dig deep for Game 4, going down three games to one this time would be a recipe for disaster.

I will be back on Thursday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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