May 23, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) and Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) face off as linesman Steve Barton (59) drops the puck in game four of the second round for the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
If this article would have been written before last nights game, it would have been significantly longer. Since the Chicago Blackhawks evened the series against the Detroit Red Wings at 3-3, their must do list has been trimmed down remarkably. However, they are not out of the woods yet.
1. Win Face-Offs
Arguably the most important and crucial determination of the Blackhawks game and their style of play, is their performance in the face-off circle. Since the Hawks are a puck-possession style of team, that relies on precise tape-to-tape passing, none of that really matters if they don’t actually have the puck. The Hawks won’t out-hit or out-muscle the Red Wings, but if they own the puck, and turn the game into a “track-meet” the Wings will be unable to keep up through 3 periods of play. This all starts with face-offs. Win a face-off, and the hardest part(getting the puck) is over, and their biggest weapon(owning the puck) is already started. I’m not saying that the Hawks can’t win the game, if they don’t win the majority of the face-offs, but it will be much smoother sailing, if they do.
2. Keep the Power Play Rolling
After yet another season of futile results on the man-advantage, Hawks fans had likely forgotten how helpful a productive Power Play ca be. Hawks fans can certainly see why it’s so important now. The Hawks have scored on 3 of their last 8 Power Play chances. This has arguably been the biggest reason for the comeback in the series, thus far. A productive Power Play propels momentum for a team, and an unproductive Power Play can sink a team into a swamp of frustration. Right now, the Hawks have all of the momentum on their side, and it will continue to be there, along with an advancement to the Western Conference Finals, if the Hawks continue to take advantage of their man-advantage opportunities.
3. Don’t get complacent
The idea of this, scares this writer the most. Yes, I truly believe that whichever team won game 6 would win the series. Obviously that’s true for Detroit, they only need one more win mathematically, anyways. I still believe this to be true for the Hawks as well. In terms of momentum, the Hawks have it all, especially since they are returning to the United Center for home-ice advantage, and last change on the lines, for Head Coach Joel Quenneville. The Hawks are firing on all cylinders, on the ice, and everything is looking good. However, it would be easy for them to get caught up in the good vibrations of what has taken place in the last to games. The Hawks might feel on top of the world right now, and they SHOULDN’T! They need to keep the momentum and good play on the ice going, with the same motivation that has been pushing them the last two games, the desperation to not wind up with a failure of a season. Streaks and President’s Trophies won’t mean a thing, in the future. If the Hawks are to lose to the Wings tomorrow night, all that will be remembered on look-backs, years from now, will be how one of the greatest Blackhawks teams in history, failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs. No one will remember the great comeback to even this series, all that will be remembered is that the Red Wings got the last laugh in this storied rivalry, by upsetting the heavily favored Blackhawks, in the playoffs. The Hawks need to remember this, and stay hungry before they get to proud of what has been a great comeback in this series.
Like I said, the Hawks aren’t out of the woods yet. The Red Wings are angrier and hungirer now, than they were two games ago. If the Hawks do these 3 broad actions in Game 7, they will advance to the Western Conference Finals.