Blackhawks Key to Success: Playoff Edition

The Chicago Blackhawks have put on their best show of hockey in the last few games of the first round series against the St. Louis Blues, after overcoming a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at three games each. The Hawks forced a Game 7 after a rousing 6-3 defeat of the Blues at home on Saturday (April 23rd) night.

(Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Both teams have had a great playoff series so far (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

The series has been a great show of hockey from both sides. With the exception of Game 6, in every other game so far, there has only been a one goal difference in the score line. Whether the games have been played at the United Center in Chicago, or at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the fans have been entertained and have made enough noise for the roofs to be lifted off!

On Monday night (April 25th), the deciding Game 7 will face off in St. Louis with both teams at risk of their season ending. The game is expected to be as fast paced and as entertaining as the six games that have preceded it.
The Blackhawks are playing to defend their Stanley Cup title from last year, and, if successful, they will become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings accomplished exactly that since the 1997 and 1998 seasons. The Hawks had a tough end to the regular season, but they have overcome their challenges in the first round of the playoffs, with their huge repertoire of players and what they have offered as the series has progressed.

The Dynamic Duo

It’s no surprise that at the top of the point leaders for the Blackhawks so far in the playoffs are Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. The pair have spent the majority of the regular season playing on the same line together, setting up goals for one another, and causing problems for the opposition anytime they surged towards the net. Hawks coach, Joel Qunneville, has been shuffling the lines around prior to the games, and seems to have settled on splitting the dynamic duo up, for now at least. Kane spent Game 6 on the same line as Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw, while Panarin shared a line with Artem Anisimov and Teuvo Teravainen. It’ll be interesting to see if Quenneville sticks with his line choices or not for the final game of the series.

Strong Goalie Performances

Corey Crawford has had some standout performances so far too. Much like during the regular season, he has made some outstanding saves and kept his team in the games as much as possible. Even with him missing eleven games in March, he has still come back, stronger and focused on achieving what he needs to. During Game 4 at the United Center, he got himself into a situation with the Blues’ Robby Fabbri, in which he landed himself a two minute minor penalty for roughing. Apart from that though, Crawford has made some incredible saves which has helped his team get to where they are.

Mr. Everything

Having missed the first game of the series due to completing his six game suspension, Duncan Keith has, yet again, proved that

(Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Keith won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

he is a huge part of the Blackhawks and their set up. He was last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner and is showing that he could, again, take that title, as long as the Hawks can make it to the end of the playoffs. He has been nicknamed by his coach and teammates as “Mr Everything, because he does just that” (Joel Qunneville). He has a huge on ice presence that the Blues are very aware of. Keith has a tally of four points during the series, and looks to add to that going into Game 7.

For both teams, Monday night is “do or die”. In a series that has been both entertaining and tough for all involved, it’s still very difficult to call who will progress to the next round. If the Hawks carry on from where they left off from the previous game, there’s no question that they could make it happen.