May 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate a win against the Minnesota Wild after eliminating them in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks advanced in five games to the Western Conference Semi-finals so what did we learn in five games?
1. The Blackhawks can win any style of game– Yes we knew this already but each game of the series was different with the Hawks only losing the game when the Wild were able to pound on them for 62:15. The Wild tried to continue this but the Hawks skill level made it impossible to complete their task.
2. The Hawks B Game is Pretty Good– The Hawks only had their A Game on display for Games 2 and 5. They only broke out their B game the rest of the series and they were only one soft goal away from sweeping the Wild. Yes the opponents are going to get tougher as the playoffs get deeper but it has to be a good feeling that even when everything isn’t clicking the Blackhawks can still get a playoff W.
3. The Penalty Kill is pretty SPECIAL- The Wild thanks to Cal Clutterbuck’s flopping around were able to get a seemingly endless amount of powerplays and yet the penalty kill led by Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger gave up 0 goals. As Harry Caray would say, the Wild’s powerplay got what the little boy shot at NOTHING.
4. Coach Quenneville has to figure out the 4th line– He tried Brandon Bollig on wing with the fourth line then Daniel Carcillo ,but in the end Coach Q started double shifting Patrick Kane. What is the point of dressing these guys if you are just going to have them be spectators? My guess is when Dave Bolland is healthy(Close) there will be a shuffle of lines with somebody ending up with Kruger and Frolik.
5. The Third Line Can Hurt the Opposition-Bryan Bickell not only scored three goals in the series but he dished out some big hits. Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg were throwing their bodies around too while getting a lot of scoring chances. This line is as good if not better than most teams 2nd lines so look at these three to be the turning point in almost every upcoming series. These guys were great during the regular season and they carried it right over to the playoffs. One thing you can count on for sure is that Bolland’s return will not brake up this line.
6. Corey Crawford can be the #1 Goalie- If you throw out the one goal in overtime of Game #3, Crawford was excellent in winning his first playoff series of his young career. In game #5 he stopped everything that the Wild were throwing at him and keeping them at bay until the offense finally exploded to open the game up. This series win has to give him the confidence needed to carry the Hawks in games when the offense isn’t clicking. The question from pre-season until last night was if Crawford could be the man, and in the Wild series he proved he could be the man.
What were your thoughts and impressions of the Hawks first round win against the Wild?
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