It's time for the Blackhawks to stand for each other - Game 4 preview
The injury rumors are starting to fly thickly now: that Hossa may be nursing a neck or hip injury; that Toews may have injuries of his own. Marian Hossa not playing in game three, and Jonathan Toews taking enough ice time to be well-down the TOI chart in the same game lends weight to those rumors.
Game four of the Stanley Cup Final is in Boston on Wednesday night. Right now, the Bruins feel they have the upper hand. They're playing the way they want to play, punishing the speedy Blackhawks, living up to their historical moniker of "the Big, Bad Bruins". Beyond that, they're playing for a noble cause, a cause that's bigger than all of them and even bigger than their city. "Boston Strong" is the rallying cry, and while a championship might not heal the city, it would certainly help local morale.
There was some foolish opportunists who attempted to cash in on a variant of the same motto, a misguided business decision that resulted in the shop owners lashing back at the communities - both Chicago and Boston - that had vehemently spoken up against the product.
Chicago can't rally to the same banner - and they shouldn't. But it doesn't mean they should give up. They have earned their right to take the ice in the Final; they have shown they're the best in the West, and now they have to prove that they're the best in the league. They have just as much right to earn and raise the Stanley Cup.
Detroit had them on the ropes, and the Blackhawks rallied back.
The Kings fought hard, as talented and as physical as the Bruins, but they fell, too.
Fans have been tossing around the typical motivational speeches, alternating Bluto's infamous Animal House speech ("'Cause when the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin'! Who's with me?") and Herb Brooks' Miracle's speech ("Great moments are born from great opportunity... This is your time.").
Both excellent speeches, to be sure, but right now, the Blackhawks have to look within themselves. It's only game four. A win tonight, and the team goes back to Chicago 2-2, and it becomes a three-game series.
It's often said that as Toews goes, so go the Blackhawks. But when Toews has been off the ice due to injury, the team has still managed to win. Toews is still on the ice. If Hossa doesn't play, that's a big loss, to be sure, but Hossa isn't the only guy on the ice.
After the lockout, the Blackhawks created a lovely video to give their thanks to the fans and recognize them for their loyalty. It has been played before every game at the United Center this season, set to Fun's "Some Nights" song.
The lyrics go, "Some nights I stay, cashing in on my bad luck / some nights I call it a draw .... This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for? / Why don't we break the rules already? / I was never one to believe the hype / save that for the black and white ... What do I stand for? ... What do I stand for?"
When it plays at the United Center on game nights, the biggest roar from the crowd usually comes from captain Jonathan Toews' line, "This team stands for you."
On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks have to forget everything else. They have to forget game three. Any poor individual performances thus far need to be wiped from the memory banks. They have to ignore the media hype which seems to feel the Bruins are invincible. They need to put aside the aches and pains, just as the Bruins are doing, and they need to fully commit to each shift, and most of all, to each other.
They have to believe in themselves the way the fans believe in them. They've proven Tuukka Rask can be scored upon; now it's time to forget the past 120+ minutes of play and light him up again. They have to shoot instead of hesitating or passing, camp in the crease until they light a bonfire under Rask, make the Bruins work hard to keep them out of the net.
Most of all, they need to look around the locker room at each other, and focus on the guys in there. Your fans stand for you, Blackhawks.
It's time for the Blackhawks to stand for each other.