Let's face facts: the Blackhawks are already the underdogs. They entered their Western Conference final match up with the defending Stanley Cup champions as the inexperienced neophytes facing off against the bigger, more physical, more experienced and -- let's face facts -- more skilled division rival. It's not to say that crazy things can't happen, and that the Blackhawks can't win the series. They can. It's just to say that it will be difficult.
It gets especially difficult if the Hawks don't win tonight. Detroit preserved its home ice advantage on Sunday afternoon. Another loss would not be catastrophic for the Hawks. It would merely take the series back to Chicago this weekend, where the Hawks would have two games of their own. This is not complicated stuff.
There is a certain feeling here, though, that the Blackhawks need to sneak a win in tonight. Are the Blackhawks good enough to protect their home ice for two straight games this weekend? Doesn't a Detroit win in Chicago seem more likely than a Chicago win in Detroit? And doesn't 2-0 -- followed by a win in Chicago, which at the very least would take the Blackhawks back to Joe Louis Arena down 3-1 -- sound almost insurmountable?
We're probably getting a little too caught up in the vagaries of home ice. The most important stuff happens between the boards, and those are always the same size. But if it's something the players think about then it's important enough, and if you need any additional reason for the Blackhawks to play well tonight (beyond, you know, the fact that you want them to win all the time), that's the one: going down 2-0 to the Blackhawks would, at this point, be traumatic. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.