Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was more wild than anyone could have predicted with 11 goals scored total. It had everything that made for exciting hockey – tons of shots, tons of goals, momentum swings, power play goals, shorthanded goals, back-to-back goals, overtime, and a complete roller coaster ride for fans of both sides! Although no one would have predicted that kind of action, it seems safe to say that both the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will tighten things up for Game 5.
The Blackhawks will need to combine their Games 1-4 performances in the best possible ways with strong defense and a reinvigorated first-line offense. The good news is that of the two craziest, most emotional games in this series so far, the Blackhawks have won. It would have been deflating to lose in the third overtime at home; it would have been crushing to lose a high-scoring game where the stars finally broke through. The Blackhawks found a way when they needed to, and tonight, they NEED to!
It is highly unlikely that the Blackhawks will get another 5 or 6 pucks behind Tuukka Rask all night, because the Bruins will come out with a vengeance and Rask will be at his old self. As long as the Blackhawks focus on the things that they can control – the things that led to their success – they should take the lead in the series tonight! We’ve already discussed the keys to beating the Bruins, and it’s just a matter of coming out faster and playing harder for a full 60 minutes (or 80 or 100 or whatever it takes!).
In other good news, it looks like Marian Hossa will be joining the Blackhawks on the ice for Game 5. Whether or not he’s at 100% is another story, but Joel Quenneville seemed certain that he would play. Hopefully whatever he’s suffering from will heal quickly or be mild enough where Hossa can last 2 or 3 more games with a strong effort.
An area where the Blackhawks fell short in Game 5 is persistence on the puck, especially when it came to winning board battles. Several times when they were leading by a goal or two it seemed like they were content to let the Bruins wear them down after a little bit of effort and just try to defend the zone after giving up possession. The Bruins exhibited their never-say-die attitude that they developed in the final period of Round 1, Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that attitude will stick around for the rest of the playoffs. If the Blackhawks act like these little things matter for as long as it takes, the Bruins will head to Boston a very frustrated team and begin plotting an epic Game 6!
Do you think Game 5 will be more controlled than Game 4?