6. Focus – Can the Blackhawks open and close a period for the rest of the playoffs?
This may be the most important question the Hawks must answer. Toews basically said they “decided” that they were going to win that third period in game six. That sounds awesome, but I don’t like the idea that they haven’t been dialed in this whole time. The deeper the Hawks go the less you can drop your guard. The Blackhawks really need to maintain focus if they plan on beating the Wild.
7. Q – Is he in control of the team?
Watching Q flip out with the crotch grab was part comical and part frustrating. He obviously lost his cool which would turn out to be a game changing bad call. The thing is, it didn’t seem to help the team in anyway. His use of Bollig, Versteeg, and even Handzus to a lesser extent has been suspect. Watching a repeated lack of focus makes me wonder if the team is all about self-coaching at times. Maybe I’m looking too much into these lapses, but I feel like Q needs to make sure the team is ready.
8. Revolving door of depth – Versteeg/Nordstrom/Morin/Regin. Who should be in?
We should all give up hope that Zus and Bollig will ever be sat for a more productive forward. Versteeg was a wreck when it came to turnovers and giveaways. To everyone’s surprise he was replaced by Nordstrom. Nordstrom played for a total of two minutes and seven seconds. You know who looked good down the stretch? Jeremy Morin. Regin could be a nice sub for Zus if Q could stop having man crushes on certain players. In the regular season, Regin had the better +/- (5 to 0) and a better face off percentage (55% to 50%). Q absolutely needs to either admit Bollig is a liability or actually play him so he can prove his “value”. And Punch Corsi isn’t a thing.
9. Can the Blackhawks take advantage of Minnesota’s goalie situation?
The Wild lost Josh Harding due to his bout with MS and Nichlas Backstrom to injury. They picked up Ilya Bryzgolov to help fill the void, and promoted Darcy Kuemper up to the big leagues. Bryz looked bad in his first 2 starts of the postseason. Kuemper was the better of the two, but left game 7 after taking a hit. The Blackhawks need to strike early and put some doubt in minds of the netminders.
10. Will the Blackhawks be ready for a much tougher Minnesota Wild?
Last year the Wild got bounced rather easily and will be looking to make a statement against the Hawks. They won their fair share of OT battles including one in game 7 against the pesky Avs. If the Hawks don’t maintain their focus the Wild could easily surprise the Hawks.