It didn’t get it’s name for nothing. The Madhouse will be alive again tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks look to advance to the Stanley Cup Final with a win over the defending champion, the Los Angeles Kings. After a Game Four win, much of the talk was centered around the Blackhawks taking Game Five because of the home-ice advantage. It may not be easy, but it will sure help.
The United Center is not just any hockey rink. It holds over 20,000 of the best fans in sports, every game. This is the biggest game to hit the building since Game Five of the Stanley Cup final almost three years ago. With a huge opportunity in front of the home team, the place will be as loud as ever. When Jim Corneilson belts out the Star Spangled Banner, the place will get loud, and stay that way for a long time.
Of course, the Kings have other ideas. They will want to score the first goal, and quiet down the place, just as Marian Hossa did to their home crowd in the third period of Game Four. The Kings win 65% of the games they score first in, while the Hawks are just slightly behind at 63%. The Blackhawks need to come out hot, and play physical right from the drop of the puck. They need to control the flow of the play, with great neutral zone defense just as they did on Thursday, and smart offensive decisions. If they can get the Kings unraveled, they will win this game. It will only take a couple of stupid penalties on either side to shift the momentum of this game, so the Hawks need to keep a cool head. If they do all this, the fans will be behind them, and they will have a huge source of energy to propel them to the win.
This is the Blackhawks’ best opportunity to close out the series. The fourth win is the hardest, but the Blackhawks know what they have to do tonight to bring home the conference championship.
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