Home better be where the heart is: Pregame thoughts as Game 5 looms


Following Game 4, myself and McClure of Second City Hockey discussed his optimism and my pessimism for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. It ended with McClure giving me a hug.

I’m still not in a good frame of mind. I’ve come to realize fans in Chicago either overreact or don’t react enough when it comes to sports. There’s no in between. Everyone has gone from, “Eh, we’re going to sweep this series and the Flyers have no chance,” to, “OMFG what are we gonna do? It’s over. It’s over! IT’S OVER!”

Granted, I’m leaning more on the side that we’re in trouble. Tell me all you want about how history is on the side of the team which takes a 2-0 series lead. But if you’re referencing that, you’re forgetting 41 of the last 45 teams which has won Game 4 ended up hoisting the Cup. History isn’t on our side anymore.

Luckily, the Blackhawks and Flyers have to play hockey and neither team will win the Cup because of a penmanship contest on paper. Now, I have both good news and bad news leading up to Game 5.


The Blackhawks are yet to play their best game.

One of the most prolific offenses in the NHL has been pretty much strapped, despite Game 1’s six-goal outburst.  Brian Campbell and  Duncan Keith have played tremendous on D through the first four games, but the blue-line unit as a whole has been less than spectacular.  Antti Niemi has played well, but he also hasn’t been “Sharks” good.  Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and  Dustin Byfuglien haven’t done close to what we — and they — expected.

Why is this good? Hopefully it means the best game is coming, the stellar play of  Marian Hossa in this series will be matched by everyone and the ‘Hawks will show us the team we’ve known and loved throughout the season and playoffs. It has to happen, right?


The Blackhawks are yet to play their best game.

Nope, that’s not a copy-and-paste fail. The good news and bad news are both the same. Why is this bad? Well, we’re four games into the biggest playoff series for this franchise since 1992, it’s the Stanley Cup Final and the Blackhawks are by far the more talented team. The fact the Blackhawks are yet to show the Flyers their best game is concerning.

The Blackhawks served up Game 3 to the Flyers with poor decisions and giveaways. Bounces didn’t go their way. It seemed as if each loose puck ended up on the stick of a Flyer. My thought has always been bounces go a certain way for one reason — the team receiving those bounces takes the luck factor out of it. While the Blackhawks played the overall better game in Game 3, Philadelphia skaters were in the right place at the right time and  Michael Leighton was in the position he needed to be more often than not.


The penalty disparity in this series is absolutely atrocious and each referee should be ashamed of himself. Friday night’s 5-on-3 advantage not withstanding, Philadelphia has received nearly every single call in this series. How  Chris Pronger has only been in the box once through four games is reason enough to ban these crews from refereeing another Stanley Cup Final for their careers. I hate to use the officiating as an excuse, but when I have Flyers fans telling me the refs have given Philadelphia the upper hand in this series I know there’s validity to what I’m saying.


Who knows. Q-Stache can be creative, and we all haven’t been a fan of his panic-switch changes. However,  Justin Bourne put together a good read on how changes have a positive influence on the mindset of a player and how it could benefit the ‘Hawks. Check it out.

Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear whichever team wins Game 5 will win the Cup. I firmly believe this series ends in Philly on Tuesday night. The problem? I’m not sure if it’ll be Toews or  Mike Richards hoisting the Cup.

Puck drop is 7 p.m. CST from the United Center. Time to get nasty.

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