Daily Herald
One horrible play makes for one deep hole
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 5/20/2009 12:18 AM

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The Blackhawks have proven this postseason that no deficit is too large and no adversity too daunting.

That is now put to the test like no other time as the Hawks trail the defending Stanley Cup champs by a pair of games in the best-of-seven conference finals.

For all their comebacks in the playoffs, this will have to be the biggest if they're to win four of the next five and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The shame of their 3-2, overtime loss to the Red Wings in Game 2 is that the Hawks carried the play for much of the last 35 minutes, and if not for a couple of horrific defensive giveaways, this game would have belonged to Chicago.

The worst, of course, was turned in and turned over by the $56 million man, Brian Campbell, signed and cheered last summer as the man to save the franchise.

Campbell is supposed to know better. He's the veteran. He's the old pro. He's supposed to make the right decisions while all around him are shaking in their boots.

But he's also the guy who was told to take his skates and leave California after San Jose got a look at his postseason effort last year.

The main reason? Turnovers. It is the sole reason they didn't even try to re-sign him.

Campbell has been all season - and remains - a player you can't trust on the ice at crucial times, and that's a frightening statement about a guy getting paid $7.1 million a year for seven more years.

The other splashy signing from the grand summer of 2008, Cristobal Huet, hasn't played since Gordie Howe was on double runners, and now Campbell makes a play to lose a game that you don't see in a bantam house league game.

You learn in squirts to get the puck deep and you never turn it over at the blue line.

So here the Hawks were in a 2-2 game in overtime after coming back to tie it, carrying the play, pressuring the Wings, and seemingly on the verge of sending the series back to Chicago tied.

After a brutally physical seven games with Anaheim, the Red Wings looked like a team that needed a few days off, and while Detroit didn't give the Hawks many good chances, the Hawks carried the play for most of the third period.

The Wings were actually trying to slow the game down, a strange position for them to be in after a decade of offensive dominance.

On the flip side, after being pounded physically for two series, the Hawks have finally found a foe they can beat up.

The Hawks are hammering the Red Wings mercilessly - sometimes at the expense of collecting the puck and creating a scoring chance - and you have to think that the longer this series goes, the better it is for the Hawks, which makes the Game 2 defeat hurt even more.

It was obvious Tuesday night that the longer the game went with the Hawks remaining close, it was to their benefit.

And when it went to overtime, it was a huge advantage.

So on the verge of tying the series, instead they're down 2-0 after Campbell tried to feather a cross-ice, backhand pass.

While standing still. At the blue line. In front of three Red Wings. With their long sticks. Against one of the best transition teams in NHL history. In overtime. Of a playoff game.

Yes, in overtime of a playoff game.

If I didn't see it, I wouldn't have believed it, but there went the Wings on a 3-on-1, and that's your hockey game.

The Hawks have overcome a lot and you can expect them to be absolutely flying Friday night.

But the Wings get a couple of needed days off, and to expect the Hawks to take four out of five from here, well, that might be too much to ask.

Even from a team that never quits.

brozner@dailyherald.com