Following the Chicago Blackhawks’ lackluster 4-1 Game 2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, there have been plenty of fingers pointed in regards to what went wrong for the team. Some blamed the indiscipline of guys like Daniel Carcillo and Dave Bolland (we’ll have more on that later), while others pointed to the Wings’ excellent game plan.
Both of those factors were definitely important in the scheme of things in the contest, but Hawks captain Jonathan Toews had his own grievances to air after the game.
Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted this:
And Adam Hoge of 670 the Score tweeted this:
Toews: "It's just tough to understand sometimes why we get roughing penalties & hooking, whatever it is, and that doesn't go both ways."
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 18, 2013
Toews did take a couple of good shots in the game, including an uncalled crosscheck by Henrik Zetterberg, but there’s one thing that he, and Hawks fans in general, need to keep in mind: the officiating had nothing to do with them losing Game 2.
The Blackhawks were flat out outplayed in this game, and part of the evidence of that came in just how thoroughly physical the Wings played them. The Hawks had to face that against the Minnesota Wild in the first round, and if they can square things away and take care of the Wings in this series, then they will likely have to go through similar circumstances against either the Los Angeles Kings or the San Jose Sharks.
Toews is a smart hockey player, but what he and the rest of the Hawks need to realize is that not every team in the league is going to be content with trying to get into a track meet style of play like Chicago does. Not every team is going to want to play a high tempo game, predicated on speed and establishing possession in the offensive zone. Most teams that a Cup contender has to deal with are going to try to establish a physical edge to their game, and that is exactly what the Wings did on Saturday.
There is, however, a bit of a caveat that needs to be added here. With the full knowledge that this game was not handed to the Red Wings courtesy of the officiating, Toews could simply have been trying to take some of the attention off of the performances of some of his teammates, notably Bolland and Carcillo, by casting the intense media glare onto his own comments.
Even if that is the case, however, these statements about officiating are a valuable lesson to Hawks fans. Just because the media narrative has been that this series will be decided by two clean-playing teams that try to look fancy on the ice doesn’t mean that it somehow becomes reality on the ice. Playoff hockey is won in the trenches, and no matter who the combatants are, the story of the battle never deviates.
Chicago is going to have to be willing to hit back in Game 3, or else Detroit could potentially give them a second dose of the medicine that apparently went down bitterly for Toews and the Blackhawks in Game 2.