What a comeback by the Chicago Blackhawks to win the series against the Detroit Red Wings! The Red Wings did everything right against the Blackhawks to check a few of their star players and out-strategize the coaching staff. In the end, people say that the Red Wings overachieved and the Blackhawks won a series that they were supposed to win anyway. But the fact is that the Blackhawks were down 3-1 in the series with their backs against the wall and regrouped, overcoming real adversity and tough breaks in the process.
The series against the Los Angeles Kings will be even more challenging. They are a team that the Blackhawks cannot afford to be down against, and they will need the sold-out commitment of their entire roster to beat the defending Stanley Cup Champions. But a few key players need to step up and raise their game to another level in order to give their team the upper hand.
– Viktor Stalberg sat out Games 2 & 3 of the series against the Red Wings because Joel Quenneville did not see the type of effort he expected from him. Stalberg’s speed has the ability to draw penalties and make plays that might not otherwise be there, and the Blackhawks will need all of that against the defense and 4 strong lines of the Kings. Stalberg has 2 assists and 17 shots on goal in 10 games throughout this post season.
– Jonathan Toews is a leader in more ways than one, and although he underachieved in offense the first two series, he was a leader in effort and in the locker room. That’s huge considering his team’s comeback, but it might not be enough against the Kings. He has 1 goal and 3 assists in 12 games and is a minus-2 with 12 penalty minutes. The Blackhawks will need him to be strong on the puck and keep up his faceoff wins at 56% but also find a way to break wide open on the score sheet.
– Dave Bolland has only played in the last 7 games and hasn’t been able to fully transform into his playoff-version form. He can get under the skin of opponents to throw them of their game as well as make big hits that may result in a pretty big play (i.e. a Game 7 overtime goal). The Kings have frustrating players of their own, and Bolland needs to be the combatant for the Blackhawks in that area.
– Brent Seabrook makes this list even though he scored the biggest goal of the post season so far. He is a minus-5 and didn’t make that big of an impact until the last few games of the Red Wings series. The good news is that he has seemed to come to life after being reunited with Duncan Keith, so we have all the right in the world to expect him to step up (literally) against the Kings with big hits and blocks. And more shots on goal wouldn’t hurt either.
Those are just a few of the names that come to mind when thinking of who could break through the Kings’ game plan. If they all keep up the momentum gained over the past week, we should be able to see what we fully expect from a playoff-style Blackhawks team.
Who do you think needs to improve their game to win the series against the Kings?