The Chicago Blackhawks head to Boston looking at what amounts to be a five-game series for the 2013 Stanley Cup. Just remember to spread the blame around after the 'Hawks dropped Game 2 Saturday night.
Don't toss Chicago forward Brandon Bollig under the bus for a 2-1 overtime loss to the Bruins.
Let's not sugarcoat Bollig's role in the loss. He did fail to come up with a puck along the boards that ultimately led to Daniel Paille's game-winner at 13:48 of the overtime period. That is painfully evident.
But to hold the 'Hawks brawler up as the lone scapegoat in the contest is overlooking a lot of hockey that resulted in the best-of-seven series being knotted at a game apiece. Consider the following as factors in the Game 2 loss.
The Blackhawks came out firing on all cylinders, sending 19 shots on Tuukka Rask in the opening period. Just one of those shots found its way to the back of the net.
Hold on...what about the goal the officials stole from Chicago following Patrick Sharp's tally that opened the scoring? I guess if the call had been called a goal on the ice, you could make that argument. If anyone is to blame, single out Rask for obscuring the puck and getting the whistle.
As hard as it was to have what would have been a 2-0 advantage wiped away, the call was the right one. Anyone who watches NHL hockey on a regular basis has to grudgingly agree. It went against the Blackhawks on this occasion.
The power play had three chances to extend the lead. No dice. You can't put that on Bollig.
Chicago could not maintain the level of play they set in the first period. Boston clamped down on defense, got a pair of goals from their depth players and evened the series.
Nick Leddy lost control of Paille behind the net on what became the tying goal late in the second period. Mistakes were made and the Bruins capitalized on two of them.
Bollig and the fourth line actually had some effective time in Boston's zone in the contest. Bollig played 8:42 on Saturday. While he wasn't the physical force he was in Game 1, singling him out as the reason Chicago walked away losers is unfair.
Was Bollig on the ice for all 14 minutes of overtime? Boston was in charge pretty much from the moment the puck was dropped in the extra session. Does Viktor Stalberg or whoever you select to replace Bollig come up with the puck cleanly and send it out of the zone? Possibly...and possibly not.
Joel Quenneville got praise for rolling four lines Wednesday. Employing the same strategy came up bust for the 'Hawks this time around, but it isn't like Quenneville threw Bolling out there on a whim.
Truth be told, I am in favor of having Stalberg in the lineup, as he should have been from the series onset. If Quenneville wanted to shock us with the addition of Ben Smith or even Jeremy Morin to the lineup, I would give him the benefit of the doubt.
A fourth-liner came up short on a clearing attempt. It happens. Bollig, however, isn't the scapegoat that fans want to make him out to be. Game 2 was a team loss, period.