Blackhawks celebrate after a fantastic team effort in game 5. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Much like game one, the Hawks came out and played their game and looked good doing it. They still need two more wins in a row which is never an easy task. The Wings might have been underestimated by everyone including the Hawks, but the Hawks know they can’t take anything for granted. Still, all that is easier said than done. Let’s look at what the Hawks need to keep doing to steal a win in Detroit.
5) They need to continue to push the pace. Hawks play their best hockey when they are moving their legs, and they can’t stop that now. Detroit has shown that they can be susceptible to the stretch pass, but the Hawks can’t only rely on that. As we saw in game five, the Hawks were mixing up their breakouts between skating, stretch passes, and short quick passes. It’s extremely hard to defend against a team that seamlessly changes its style in their transition game. Hawks need to keep Detroit guessing.
4) Another reason the Hawks had success in game five was due to the fact Q decided to do some line matching. While Q may have shown full faith in all four lines this season, the playoffs are a whole new beast. Depth is important, but using that depth in a strategic fashion does wonders for a team, and Babcock has shown that though the first and second round.
3) On an individual level, Toews can finally relax a bit. He has gotten his first goal, and I can only see that as a huge benefit to him and the team. Some felt that Toews was “gripping the stick too tight” and with that demon slain he can go back to playing a more comfortable game. When you add that with the line changes and the line matching by Q, you can expect a more dominate Captain Serious.
2) The first power play looked piss poor. Detroit pushed and pressured perfectly through it, and it looked terrible for the Hawks. Then the Hawks kicked it in to another gear. They had some really beautiful puck movement and it paid off. Not only were they clicking in their passes, but they were shooting the puck as well. If the Hawks can build off of their PP success, then this series might be swinging Chicago’s way.
1) The Hawks were finishing their checks, and they were doing it cleanly. They roughed up Kronwall with a clean but hard hit, and they kept hitting all game. They made the Wings pay a price to get anything done. The Wings have some amazing veteran players, but their blue line is still fairly young. The Hawks have forced their youngsters into turning the puck over on numerous occasions with sustained pressure on the fore check. Shaw has toned down his over exuberance and turned up the style of play that made him a fan favorite. He has played a vital role in the Hawks success, and hopefully he can keep it up.
With game six in Detroit, Babcock gets to have the matches he wants, so Chicago will need to do everything right when they get a matchup they want. The only player that really needs to step up is Stalberg. Handzus might be slow but he made his veteran presence felt, and with everyone pulling their weight his speed is less of an issue. Stalberg on the other hand has size and speed, but he still hasn’t figured out how to use it consistently. If he can get hot, the Hawks gain yet another offensive arsenal which they can definitely use while playing in Detroit.