The Chicago Blackhawks fought off elimination for one night by beating the Detroit Red Wings last weekend 4-1. The team that gave Detroit fits during the regular season, returned Saturday night just in time to extend their record-breaking season. The bottom line is that Detroit is still in control of this series and could slam the door on the Blackhawks season tonight. Before that could happen, the Madison Street Hockey Club will have something to say about it. Remember, the core of the team won a Stanley Cup not too long ago.
There are five things the Blackhawks have to do to keep the series going:
Keep Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith together
It’s no secret that Brent Seabrook hasn’t been playing to his potential. The coaching staff made a savvy move to the put the long-time blue line mates back together. The move was made to salvage the season. Making adjustments of the fly is one of the things this coaching staff does well. Most hockey fans might remember this defensive pairing from the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Keep Dave Bolland in his role as “The Rat”
Even though Bolland ended up in the penalty box a few times in game five, getting a couple of the Red Wings to notice him long enough to get them off of their game was worth it. Bolland has a distinct role on the team. Injuries and more responsibilities like centering the second line for much the season, has ironically taken him off of his own game. It seems like the Bolland the Hawks know and love is back to his old self it time to rally the troops.
Keep the Jumbo Line together
The line of Michal Handzus(6’5″, 215),Bryan Bickell(6’4″,223) and Marian Hossa played well in Saturday’s victory over the Red Wings. Bryan Bickell’s hit on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall was one of the main turning points in the game. The hit showed that the Blackhawks didn’t take kindly to the physical approach used by the Red Wings on Jonathan Toews.
Coach Joel Quenneville kept Jonathan Toews away from the Henrik Zetterberg line during game five because they’ve been in the Blackhawks captain’s face all series long. Things changed in the last game as Toews finally scored his first goal of the playoffs. This will be harder to do in Detroit because the home team gets to make the last line change. Expect Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to continue to stick with what works by putting captain of captain. Looks like Toews is going to half to suck it up and deal with Zetterberg and friends.
Continue the good vibes on the power play
If the Blackhawks would have taken advantage of their power play chances during the series, maybe they wouldn’t be staring elimination in the face right now. Cashing in on power play opportunities is something that has escaped the Blackhawks all season long. The power play came back Saturday night. The team scored two goals on special teams. That was the difference in the game. If they want to tie this up, they cannot squander such opportunities.