Blackhawks might be tough, but so far, not so smart | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaBlackhawks might be tough, but so far, not so smart

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 | 11:15 AM

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Patrick Kane of Chicago can only wince as the Blackhawks for the second time were moments from victory, only to lose in St. Louis. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Patrick Kane of Chicago can only wince as the Blackhawks for the second time were moments from victory, only to lose in St. Louis. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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Teams need to display toughness, both physical and mental, to succeed in the playoffs, but Chicago is threatening to go out quickly after last year's Stanley Cup win due to bad decisions on the ice.

The Stanley Cup playoffs is not the time for players and teams to put being macho ahead of discipline.

Yes, teams need to display toughness, both physical and mental, to succeed, but showing the world how tough rather than how smart you are is a dangerous and potentially fatal game to play.

Just ask the 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins met the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs and rather than depend on their speed and skill, they initiated a physical series - a style of hockey they were not as well-suited to play. It blew up in their faces.

Are the Chicago Blackhawks making the same mistake this season?

The Blackhawks find themselves trailing their first round series with the St. Louis Blues 2-0, having blown two games they should have won. Chicago led 3-2 in Game 1, but gave up a goal to Jaden Schwartz of the Blues at 18:24 of the third period and lost when Alex Steen scored after just 26 seconds of overtime.

Chicago's response?

They came back in Game 2 with one of their most goofy and unglued performances in years. The defending Stanley Cup champs, who also won the championship in 2009-10, were uncharacteristically undisciplined from veteran defenceman Duncan Keith delivering cheap shots to Blues players with his stick and foolishly waving his stick in the face of Vladimir Tarasenko while lined up for a faceoff to fellow blue-liner Brent Seabrook delivering a horrible head shot check that knocked Blues captain David Backes out of the game and will probably result in Seabrook receiving a multi-game suspension.

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The end result was the same. Chicago led 3-2 late in the third period, but the Blues forced overtime when Vladimir Tarasenko scored at 19:53 and then won it on an OT tally by defenceman Barret Jackman.

Keith's silliness was completely out of character. And so will the Blackhawks early departure from the playoffs be out of character if Keith and his teammates don't halt the foolishness and get back to playing sound, intelligent hockey.

Seabrook, meanwhile, was suspended three games by the NHL on Sunday for the hit on Backes.

That's more like it

Colorado Avalanche centre Paul Stastny was one player identified as being on the hot seat for this year's playoffs. Traditionally a better than average scorer in the regular season, the 28-year-old Stastny has been simply underwhelming in two previous playoff appearances, scoring three goals and 18 points in 15 games. With Matt Duchene injured and not playing, Stastny has stepped up to the plate with three goals and seven points in two games as the Avalanche holds a 2-0 lead in its series with the Minnesota Wild.

Nate the great

Speaking of the Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon continues to prove beyond any reasonable doubt (not that there was any) he is the best rookie in the NHL. The 18-year-old rising star has a goal and seven points in two games and looks completely unaffected by the pressures of playoff hockey. He kicked off his NHL playoff career with a three-assist night in Game 1 and followed that with a one-goal, three-assist effort.

No stopping Getzlaf

Two years ago when he scored just 11 goals and 57 points in 82 games, Ryan Getzlaf's career seemed to be trending in the wrong direction. Now, for as good as he has been overall in his splendid nine-year NHL career, it looks as though he can still kick it up to an even higher level.

There is a very good chance Getzlaf will finish second to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby in the voting for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player which would be quite an accomplishment. At 28 Getzlaf has become an absolutely ferocious and dominant leader and that was never more evident than in Game 2 of Anaheim's series against the Dallas Stars when he recorded his second straight one-goal and two-assist game. What made this so special was the fact he played despite receiving 52 stitches after being drilled in the face by a slap shot in Game 1. Teammates can't help but be inspired when they see their leader playing through pain like that.

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