Apr 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) is knocked to the ice by Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Game 3 was a must win, for the Chicago Blackhawks. Game 4 is no different, as the Blackhawks desperately need to even the series, with the St. Louis Blues, before Game 5, in St. Louis.
A win, in Game 4, would swing the momentum completely in the Hawks’ favor, as well as even the series at 2-2.
A loss, in Game 4, would sap the Hawks’ momentum, as well as put them on the brink of elimination, With Game 5, being in St. Louis, a loss would create the absolute least desirable situation, for the Hawks. This IS a must-win game.
Let’s see how the Hawks and Blues have fared, this series.
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When looking at the numbers, you’d almost think it was the Blackhawks, who would have the 2-1 lead, in the series. However, it is the Blues that have the 2-1 series lead, which goes to show just how close this series has been. Both teams are scoring goals, at the same rate, both teams have anemic Power Plays, and both teams have had excellent Penalty Killing. The Hawks have far and away had more success, in the faceoff circle, but somehow the Blues have lead the way, in Corsi.
If the Hawks could slightly improve their Corsi numbers, they can and will take over this series. Their game relies on dominating the puck, and although they haven’t dominated the puck, the Blues have had better control of it. The Blues intense pressure has lead to the late, clutch, 3rd period goals, in games 1 and 2, which eventually resulted in Blues victories, and is thus the difference, in the series. If the Hawks can hold onto the puck a little bit more, they will do just fine.
The Blues didn’t play poorly, in Game 3. One soft goal, given up, is what paced the game, and largely lead to the Blackhawks’ win, but the Blues played a decent game. Of course, the flurry of penalties, did serious damage to their chances, in Game 3, but their Penalty Kill was fantastic. They will have to continue to adjust to life without David Backes, who will be out for at least one more game. Alex Steen has a bigger role, on the team, without Backes, one that he is going to have to be better at, in Game 4. Vladimir Sobotka will have to continue to play injured, as the Blues cannot afford to be without anymore key forwards. T.J. Oshie has yet to make his presence truly felt, since returning, in Game 2.
In net, for the Blues, will be Ryan Miller, once again. With the exception of the soft, 1st period goal given up, Miller played great, in Game 3. He has had a great series, thus far, and will need to keep it up, as the Blues are missing key players, up front.
The Blackhawks finally won, in Game 3, and Game 4 should be just as desperate. This is a whole new series, now, but the Hawks have some improvements to make, if they want to advance. The Power Play has been atrocious, and it should have given them at least a 3-0 win, rather than a 2-0 win, in Game 3. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt them. Michal Handzus played his best game of the year, in Game 3, as he was sensational, on the Penalty Kill. Jonathan Toews made his presence felt, no matter where he was, on the ice, and no matter who he was playing with. Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane both looked great, at least when they were playing with Toews. Andrew Shaw needs to be better, and cut down on the undisciplined penalties.
In net, will be Corey Crawford, for the Hawks. Crawford played the best game, of his career, in Game 3, as he shutout the Blues. Goaltenders go through up-swings and down-swings, and perhaps Crawford is starting a huge up-swing, much like Jonathan Quick, with the Los Angeles Kings, in the 2012 playoffs. You never know.
The Hawks must win, in Game 4. If they don’t it will take a miracle of miracles to comeback, in this series. While the Hawks pulled off a similar miracle, last year, in the 2nd round, against the Detroit Red Wings, a wise person would not expect such a miracle to happen two years in a row. A win, tonight, makes this a best of 5 series, with the momentum, on the Hawks’ side. Let’s make it happen.