Hawks Can't Afford Another Slow Start

First period will be key in Game 4

The Hawks have been following a familiar formula in their second round series with the Vancouver Canucks.  Their strategy thus far in the first three games has been to get behind by two or three goals early, and see if they can battle back to win.  It's a brave strategy, that's for sure, but the results after three games seem to prove that it's probably not the best way to go about things.

The Hawks fell behind by three in game one only to come back and tie the score in the third period before falling 5-3, and then got down 2-0 in the second game.  They went on a five-goal rampage after that and were able to sneak out of Vancouver with a split.

Then they came home on Tuesday night and tried the three-goal hole once again, and failed to overcome it.  Now the Hawks are preparing to play for their season tonight in game four at the United Center.  A loss wouldn't officially end the Hawks' season, but going back to Vancover for game five in a 3-1 hole would effectively kill their chances.

Which is why the Hawks would be doing themselves a huge favor if they could come out and get on the board first tonight.  They have enough pressure on them to get a win tonight, and allowing Vancouver to take another early lead would only add to it.  Not to mention that it would take a home crowd out of it early.

By scoring early they can assure that the crowd stays loud and feed off the energy, which may help the team play for an entire 60 minutes.  Something they've failed to do in the first three games.

They also need to stop taking so many stupid penalties.  In the last two games Patrick Kane has taken two hooking penalties in the offensive zone, one of which led to Vancouver's second goal of the game on Tuesday.  It's a point Joel Quenneville has been trying to drive home to his team, but they're not listening.

There's a good side and a bad side to the problems the Hawks have been having in this series.  Obviously, the negatives are that stupid penalties and falling behind are making winning a lot more difficult than it needs to be.  The good news is that both of these mistakes are easily correctable if the team commits to fixing them.

The Vancouver Canucks are a very good hockey team, but they're not as good as the Hawks have been making them look so far in this series.  They just have to stop beating themselves.

Along with writing for NBCCHICAGO.com, Tom Fornelli can also be found contributing at FanHouse, SPORTSbyBROOKS, and his own Chicago sports blog Foul Balls.

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