Chicago vs. Detroit: Will Lethargic Blackhawks Answer Wake-Up Call?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

Henrik Zetterberg is leading the Detroit Red Wings by example.
Henrik Zetterberg is leading the Detroit Red Wings by example.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

There's no need for the Chicago Blackhawks to panic after losing 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the second game of their conference semifinal playoff series.

However, there is a need for the Blackhawks to wake up.

Chicago and Detroit are tied 1-1 after the first two games at the United Center, and Detroit would appear to have the advantage since it stole a game in Chicago.

However, the Blackhawks were 4-0 against the Red Wings this season, and they are very comfortable playing at Joe Louis Arena (they were 2-0 there). Head coach Joel Quenneville just has to have his team play with maximum effort for 60 minutes.

That did not happen in the second game.

It really isn't a surprise, either. The Blackhawks have been celebrated all season as the best team in the NHL. They won the Presidents' Trophy, but they played Game 2 like they believed their press clippings.

The Blackhawks are not a rough-and-tumble team who want to pound opponents, and that's not likely to change at any point in the series against the Red Wings.

The only way they are going to fulfill their potential and get through the Western Conference playoffs is to outplay their opponents. They did just that in the first game of the series, and they might have thought the Red Wings were about to roll over for them.

However, Detroit head coach Mike Babcock had a very tired and emotionally spent hockey team on his hands in Game 1. He brought the Red Wings back to Detroit after their Game 1 loss, and when they returned to Chicago for Game 2, they were rejuvenated.

They gave up the first goal of the game to Patrick Kane, but once the Wings tied the score on Damien Brunner's artful deflection in the second period, they dominated the game.

On the other hand, the Blackhawks displayed none of the relentlessness with the puck that they were noted for in the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks found themselves on the short end of a 2-1 score after two periods, and they never mounted a serious threat in the third.

Brendan Smith scored the game-winner for Detroit late in the second period, taking a sweet feed from Henrik Zetterberg and wristing it past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula added goals midway through the final period, and that allowed the Red Wings to cruise.

Credit Babcock for putting the skillful and defensively proficient Zetterberg on Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews. The Chicago captain has not scored a goal in the postseason, and that has to be troubling for Quenneville.

Wings' captain destroyed Blackhawks' captain in 4-1 victory. Zetterberg smothered Toews, outworked everyone on the ice. Brilliant effort.

— Bob Wojnowski (@bobwojnowski) May 18, 2013

However, Toews is always a presence because he is sharp in the faceoff circle and is very tenacious defensively.

Still the Blackhawks will breathe a sigh of relief when Toews finally gets on the board. He's their best player and leader, and the Blackhawks need him to be an offensive factor.

There's plenty of opportunity for him to get there because the two teams have only played two games in their best-of-seven series. However, if they don't turn things around quickly, the Blackhawks could find themselves playing must-win games shortly.

They need to come out in Game 3 with a much sharper effort. If they find themselves getting punched in the mouth by the Red Wings, they must punch back.

They didn't in Game 2, and they find themselves in a series that is all square.

The Blackhawks have received a wake-up call. Will they answer it?