Chicago Blackhawks To Do List:
1. Score First!
Granted this is the goal of every team playing any sport at any level. It is very important for the Chicago Blackhawks to tally the first point because their opponent the Phoenix Coyotes are a very impressive 32-4-6 when drawing first blood. The Hawks had a very bad habit of terrible first periods that were saved by extraordinary third periods. This is the playoffs, and every team is good so coming out for the third period and outscoring teams by 2 or 3 goals on a regular basis against great goal tending will not be the norm. The Hawks need to come out with a surge in the first and get on the board first.
2. Power Play Improvement
If Jonathan Toews is on the ice for the start of game one, all of the Hawks special teams get a boost. The power play for almost the entire season has been a disgrace and ugly part of the streakiness that has been the Blackhawks season. The Hawks were 42 for 277 15.2% with the man advantage and gave up 3 short handed goals. On the bright side the Coyotes were 2nd to last with their power play at 34 for 251 13.5%, but focusing on the Hawks the addition of Toews will be huge. They still seem to lack two things on the power play, controlling the puck in the opponents zone (if they can even get it in the zone) and getting pucks on goal. If the Hawks can score with the man advantage they should get out of the desert with at least one victory
3. Pests Uncontrolled
This isn’t a call for the Orkin Man, it’s a call for perennial pest Dave Bolland and newcomer pest Andrew Shaw to do what they do best! Getting under the opponents skin while not taking stupid penalty’s is Dave Bolland game in a nutshell come the playoffs. These two will be assigned the #1 scoring line for the Coyotes or whichever line gets hot. When Bolland returned in Game 4 last season against the Vancouver Canucks he shut down the Sedin twins who were owning that series. In the Stanley Cup run of 2010 he shut everything down in his path from the Sedin’s, Thorton, Briere lines. Now Bolland has a young protege on his line that likes to do the same things! Shaw will not overwhelm you with talent (although he made some great nifty passes to close out the year) but he his gritty, gutty and fearless which is perfect for Stanley Cup Pests! These two will be counted on more than all the great offensive scorers the Hawks have on their roster!
None of the other 3 points matters if Corey Crawford doesn’t bring his A game. Last season his stats improved in the playoffs, and it looked like the Hawks were going to have a backstop for years to come after the free agent departure of Antti Niemi. Crawford after a good start to the season became very streaky. After watching Ray Emery play a lot during the middle of the season, Crawford regained his #1 spot for the rest of the year and for the playoffs. For the net minder to be successful he doesn’t have to stand on his head, but he cannot let ANY weak goals in (ex: See Jimmy Howard last night) stop everything he should and make a few big saves. Basically do your job and the team will be successful!
Not a huge list to knock out for tonight, but the Hawks during tonight’s “white out” will not want to let the Coyote momentum to ever get started. Win tonight and make them be the team on the run and have to make major adjustments!! On the same day that The Blackhawks won the 1938 Stanley Cup, The Hawks need to show that they are ready for the 2012 Stanley Cup and steal game 1!!
Let’s Go Hawks!!