In case you've been living under a rock the last 24 hours and haven't seen the dirty hit Phoenix forward Raffi Torres delivered on Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa Tuesday night, here it is:
Torres is suspended indefinitely pending an in-person hearing on Friday. You can pretty much take it to the bank Torres will get at least five games off for delivering this blow. As per the language in the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, the league has to have a face-to-face meeting to hand down a suspension of five or more games, and they usually do not take this step unless they intend to do just that.
But, here's the thing: So what?
It doesn't matter if Torres is suspended five games, 20 games, or sentenced to die by lethal injection. Hossa is out indefinitely, and the Hawks will be without their leading scorer as they attempt to overcome a 2-1 series deficit. Whatever value Torres might have to the Coyotes as a third-line agitator, he doesn't mean nearly as much to his team as Hossa means to the Hawks.
Torres and Hossa both out for the rest of the series? I dare say the Coyotes come out ahead on that deal. The damage is done, no matter the outcome of Friday's hearing.
Adding insult to injury, the Hawks didn't even get a power play out of the deal. In fact, Phoenix was rewarded a power play after Chicago winger Brandon Bollig roughed Torres in the aftermath of the hit, which went unpenalized. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called the officiating "a disgrace" in his postgame presser, and you can hardly blame him. The guys in the striped shirts messed this one up bad.
So, where do the Hawks go from here? How do they get back in the series?
Rookie Brandon Saad will replace Hossa in the Blackhawks lineup. Of course, there really is no replacing Hossa. He's a legit superstar in all three zones, and few players in the league can do what he does. But Saad will add some size and offensive skill to the Hawks' lineup. The 6-2, 211-pound winger totaled 76 points in 44 regular season games with the Saginaw Spirit. He added eight goals and nine assists in 12 postseason games. The kid is good with the puck, and maybe he can provide a spark to Chicago's moribund power play -- the Hawks are just 1-for-10 with the man advantage in this series.
I've been saying for quite some time poor special teams would eventually lead to the Hawks' demise. I've seen nothing these first three games to change my opinion. All three of these playoff games have gone overtime. The Hawks scored a power play goal in their lone win of this series. They failed to score with the power play in each of their two losses. Coincidence? I think not. A timely goal with the man advantage goes a long way in a one-shot game. The Hawks need to get one to win Game 4, and they must get that hapless power play going if they have any hope of winning this series.