Loss, Ben Bishop’s ‘injury’ enough to rankle just about anybody

SHARE Loss, Ben Bishop’s ‘injury’ enough to rankle just about anybody

Aloss such as this one ticks a person off.

That is, if you’re a Blackhawks fan and, let’s say, a journalist born crabby.

How could the Hawks let Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at the United Center get away from them and lose 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning?

There were 22,000 people rooting for the Hawks, with no concerns about carpetbaggers from Sarasota or St. Petersburg, Florida, turning the crowd colors dark blue and silver.

How could the Hawks miss so many good shots?

‘‘Sometimes it can be focus,’’ winger Marian Hossa said. ‘‘Or a little bit of [bad] luck.’’

Going down two games to one, with no offense from stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, is just a mess. This Lightning team plays great on the road, true. But aren’t the Hawks the bomb, always ready to explode and destroy foes?

Then there’s the hockey irritant, the phrases ‘‘lower-body injury’’ and ‘‘upper-body injury.’’ These descriptions cover everything from an infected toe to a Rogaine incident.

So it was annoying to see the Lightning relying on what must be called a ‘‘whole-body injury’’ of mysterious origin to explain earlier in the day why goalie Ben Bishop might or might not start in Game 3.

‘‘We’ll see,’’ Bishop said over and over.

He had come out of Game 2 twice and returned only once. Cramps? Upper/lower-body injury? Toilet issues?

We’ll never know. Nor, perhaps, do we want to know.

Yet there was Bishop in goal at game time, as though whatever did or didn’t happen in Game 2 didn’t happen. Or vice versa.

So how do you test a man who says he felt oppressed ‘‘like Marshawn Lynch,’’ the Seattle Seahawks’ star running back who answered Super Bowl media questions by saying, ‘‘I’m just here so I don’t get fined,’’ time and again? You pepper him with shots.

The Hawks had 19 shots on goal in the first period, and Bishop somehow managed to turn away 18 of them.

Sadly, Hossa missed a mid-period shot at a net that was so open it made a 7-Eleven store seem closed by comparison. Bishop had skated out of position, and the net gaped like an open garage. Hossa missed wide.

Such is hockey, where the easy is never certain and the crazy has a chance.

Unlike Bishop’s know-nothing responses about what had ailed him, Hawks winger Bryan Bickell said he had missed the first two games of the series because of vertigo. He had taken himself out of the last game of the Hawks’ Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks, apparently because of the dizziness.

Bickell’s openness was welcome in this realm of secret body parts and unknown injuries.

He was back and was needed because, at 6-4 and 223 pounds, he brings the heft the Hawks lack when little guys such as Kane are on the ice. His size is especially needed because the Lightning boast giant defensemen Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman and Andrej Sustr, who stand 6-5, 6-6 and 6-7 and weigh between 220 and 230 pounds.

Of course, it wasn’t good when Bickell got nailed with a roughing penalty near the end of the second period. It was worse when teammate Brandon Saad plowed into Bishop on a short-handed charge less than a minute later.

Here came a five-on-three for the Lightning. But after Bishop picked himself up from the prone and dazed (faking?) position, the Hawks killed off both penalties.

That excited the largely worried and quiet crowd more than anything else had. Indeed, the roar of approval that continued until intermission showed the brief joy the crowd felt.

Now there is concern about the Hawks’ legacy, though. Get past the Lightning, and it’s three Cup championships in six seasons, a mini-dynasty, for sure.

But the advantage now belongs to the Lightning, who split their two games at home. This is a rugged, fast team that has the Hawks confused.

And who knows what Bishop has in store. He probably did get dazed on that rush by Saad, but maybe not. It was some sort of . . . well, something.

Of course, mum’s the word.

Email: rtelander@suntimes.com

Twitter: @ricktelander

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