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Blackhawks, Bulls off to shaky starts in respective playoffs
Editor’s note: The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-0 Monday, April 21. The series is now 2-1 in favor of the Blues. The Bulls fell to the Washington Wizards 101-99 Tuesday, April 22. The Bulls now trail 0-2 in that series. The Blackhawks face the Blues in Chicago Wednesday, April 23, while the Bulls travel to Washington Friday, April 25, for Game 3.
By Doug Halberstadt
0-3. That’s the combined 2014 playoff record of the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls as I sit here late Easter Sunday night (April 20) wondering what’s happening with these two franchises. Instead of getting off to a good start in each of their playoff series, both teams have laid an egg.
The Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and it’s looked like they’ve had both of their games in hand. Instead of holding on to their lead, they’ve let the St. Louis Blues steal the wins and jump out to a 2-0 lead. Both losses were heart-wrenching to ’Hawks fans.
Chicago goalie and former Rockford IceHog Corey Crawford has given up some untimely goals that have let the Blues back into the games. It seems as though Crawford is stellar for most of the game, but then suffers a mental letdown during the final 2 minutes of each period.
In game one, Chicago had a 3-2 lead with less than 2 minutes left in the third period. At the 18:15 mark, Crawford let the game-tying goal get by him. Both teams remained scoreless in the next two overtime periods. St. Louis ended up scoring the game-winning goal 26 seconds into the third overtime period to take game one of the series 4-3.
It was déjà vu all over again in game two of the series. Chicago held a 3-2 lead in the third period. This time, St. Louis scored the tying goal with only 7 seconds left in regulation. Once again, Crawford failed to secure the victory for the Blackhawks by holding on to a late-game lead. The Blues needed less than 6 minutes in the overtime period before scoring the game-winner and sending the ’Hawks back to Chicago for game three on Monday night (April 21) down 0-2 in the series.
The Bulls had home-court advantage in game one of their series with the Washington Wizards. Much like their counterparts on the ice, the Bulls had a late-game lead that they ended up not being able to hold on to. Chicago was up by three (75-72) after the third quarter and had led by as many as 13 points in this game before poor shot selection and lack of rebounding did them in.
The Wizards tied the game at 88 with less than 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Three minutes and 43 seconds later, they stole game one in Chicago 102-93. Their series resumed Tuesday night (April 22) at the United Center.
By the time this column is in print, I’m hoping both Chicago teams have made it into the win column. If they don’t, it could be a very short playoff series for the ’Hawks and the Bulls.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the April 23-29, 2014 issue