Oops, I did it again. (Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

Go ahead and think sweet thoughts about how the Blackhawks stormed back from 0-3 down against Vancouver last season. Say it. “Anything can happen!” “It’s not over yet!”

This doesn’t feel the same, though, does it?

Losing back-to-back overtime playoff games on home ice is one thing, but the manner in which they were lost is even more disheartening. Once again, Mikkel Boedker slipped one past Corey Crawford in the extra period, and the Coyotes took a 3-1 series lead over the ‘Hawks with a 3-2 win Thursday at the United Center.

What we’ve seen in this series is a team consistently one step behind the other, constantly giving chase, even making it interesting at times, but ultimately falling short. I don’t for one second believe the Blackhawks have been badly outplayed in this series, but Phoenix is playing just well enough to overcome the talent gap and is beating the ‘Hawks on scheme rather than skill.

The whole let’s-spot-the-Coyotes-a-lead-until-late-in-the-third-period-then-tie-it-when-we-look-defeated thing might be exciting, and this series has had no shortage of free hockey. It’s the mental lapses that lead the games to get to that point that are the most frustrating, and Phoenix is taking full advantage.

There’s no doubt the ‘Hawks missed Marian Hossa and even Andrew Shaw, but what ultimately changed? The same shit happens whether they’re in the lineup or not. The Blackhawks are that close, but it really doesn’t mean a damn thing. Losing one-goal, overtime games is the same as losing 10-0. If it was January and the ‘Hawks were playing this way, we could say, “The Blackhawks haven’t played at their best the past four games and they’ve still taken all of them to overtime and earned a point. That’s a good sign.”

In the playoffs, it gets you down 3-1 in a series to a team that doesn’t possess the talent, but just wants it more. And that’s the thing – it really doesn’t seem like the ‘Hawks want it until they’ve fallen behind. They can talk all they want about what needs to change and they know where their deficiencies lie. They did that all season. It’s nothing new. But if you can’t change what needs to be changed, if you can’t execute the way you know you must, then all that talk is about as useful as screen door in a submarine.

If seeing Hossa go off on a stretcher isn’t enough to get the ‘Hawks psyched to be flying all over the ice, then what in the funky hell is enough? What’s it going to take? If they know the answer, it may be too late anyway.

I know it feels like I’m writing a eulogy here, and I hope to whatever it is you pray to that I’m very, very wrong in feeling the ‘Hawks can’t win this series and may not play at the United Center again this season. But if you have some sort of hidden optimism you can justify with facts and not with some Cubs fan-type babble, I’d love to hear it.

Johnny Oduya getting pantsed in his own zone by Shane Doan, then taking the rest of the ensuing play off and watching the action unfold was nearly laughable. Duncan Keith losing Taylor Pyatt was just sub par. And just when we’re all ready to check CTA Bustracker, the ‘Hawks decide it’s time to play.

Brendan Morrison gave the ‘Hawks a gift goal when a deflection slipped past Mike Smith, who barely got tested in the third until late. Michael Frolik’s goal came off a mad scramble that resembled Patrick Kane’s late score in Game 5 against Nashville.

That seemed to be the only net presence of the night, by the way. How often did you see a Blackhawk in front of the net?

When Sean O’Donnell got caught pinching a tweener puck that bounced out of the zone, and Nick Leddy allowed Boedker to get around him by taking a terrible, awful, horrendous angle I used to see when watching my ex-girlfriend’s little siblings play travel hockey, I could barely muster the energy to get out of my seat and walk out the United Center doors, possibly for the last time this season.

Losing Hossa to that hit should have inspired the Blackhawks, but instead they’re deflated after losing consecutive OT games on their own ice. Maybe I can’t find the optimism because it’s so soon, and maybe I should’ve waited to write this until the middle of the day tomorrow. But why should I be optimistic and full of life about a possible comeback when the ‘Hawks have done nothing to show me they even have the will to accomplish it until they’re on the brink of defeat?

Now, instead of wishing for 60 minutes of inspired play, we’re hoping for 180 minutes for the ‘Hawks to earn an improbable Game 7 victory.

There’s something to be said for a team fighting back in the final minutes to send games into an extra period, but it would be nice to see that type of energy and desperation for an entire game.

If they can’t muster it Saturday, they can just head right over to Scottsdale and book a tee time.