Down 3-0, Blackhawks looking to ‘change the script’
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — They were six years younger back then, with a lot less mileage on their bodies and a lot less weariness in their voices.
But looking back through all the postseason memories they’ve made in the last nine years, the veteran Blackhawks still can recall how they took a 3-0 series deficit all the way to overtime of Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.
There was Dave Bolland’s return from a concussion for Game 4, and his four-point night in a 7-2 victory. There was a 5-0 laugher in Game 5, as the Hawks chased goalie Roberto Luongo for a second consecutive game. There was Ben Smith’s overtime winner in Game 6, during which they chased surprise starter Cory Schneider.
They did their best to ignore the daunting big picture and focused only on the task at hand: Win one game, then see what happens.
‘‘We came out and had a good Game 4, and things started going in our direction,’’ defenseman Brent Seabrook said Tuesday in the aftermath of the Hawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators in Game 3 that put them in a 3-0 hole. ‘‘We started working. We started playing our hockey. And once we started doing that, we could feel the momentum switch, then we were just rolling. We weren’t thinking about much; we were playing. . . . Doing that, we can create momentum. We can change the script here.’’
But Bolland isn’t walking through that door. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has shown no signs of being as mentally vulnerable as Luongo. And the Hawks, suddenly looking their age after a 50-victory regular season, don’t seem to have the speed to keep up with the Predators — a trendy preseason pick to reach the Stanley Cup Final whose record was hurt significantly by a lack of success in three-on-three overtimes and shootouts, neither of which is an issue in the playoffs.
Four teams in NHL history have come back to win a series after being down 3-0, including the 2014 Los Angeles Kings and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. It’s hardly out of the realm of possibility the Hawks, who have accomplished so much in the last decade, could become the fifth. But aside from a strong second period in Game 3, the Hawks have thus far given little indication they have the speed, depth and will to pull it off.
‘‘It’s a combination of everything,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said. ‘‘We haven’t played up to the way we can, there’s no two ways about it. We’ve got to give them some credit. They’ve played well and done what they’ve had to do, and they’ve played with speed. We know what we can do. It’s just a matter of doing it and being confident about it.’’
With an extra day to stew on the loss before Game 4 on Thursday, the Hawks took what amounted to a mental-health day Tuesday. While the Predators held team meetings and played table tennis in the dressing room, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he wanted to give his team a day ‘‘to take a breath and stay away from each other’’ before hitting the ice for practice Wednesday.
Quenneville still thinks that the Hawks can find another gear and that the speed is still there. He thinks that they can and will battle harder, that they can and will hang on to the puck better, that they can and will start chipping away. He pointed to the 2010 Flyers and 2014 Kings as inspiration.
‘‘I know it’s a gigantic hole we’ve put ourselves in here,’’ he said. ‘‘But those are two pretty good examples to see.’’
The Hawks need four. But it starts with just one.
‘‘Obviously, it’s not the situation or position we want to be in, being down 3-0,’’ Keith said. ‘‘But take it one game at a time, one shift at a time, one period at a time. Anything can happen.’’
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