Apr 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) controls the puck ahead of St. Louis Blues defenseman Barret Jackman (5) during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Since the first 4 games, of this best of 7 series, between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues were a wash, it is now a best of 5 series.
Tonight, for Game 5, the series heads back to St. Louis, where the Blues have won both games, this series. However, the Blackhawks have just reeled off 2 in a row, in Chicago, to tie the series, at 2-2.
Will the Blues rediscover their mojo, on home ice? Will the Blackhawks be able to carry their momentum, to a series win? No one knows, and it’s nearly impossible to guess, considering how tight this series has been, but we’ll do our best, to make an educated guess.
Here’s how the Hawks and Blues have fared against one another, this series.
[table id=45 /]
Statistically speaking, the Hawks have had a better series, than the Blues, although it is very close. The Hawks have an advantage over the Blues, in every category, that I listed, in this series. However, since the numbers are so close, there isn’t that much of an advantage. The Blackhawks just need to do what they did during the first 35 minutes, of Game 4, and they will take the lead, in the series.
The Blues are reeling a bit. After taking a 2-0 series lead, they now find themselves tied at 2, and looking for answers. It’s not like the Blues have played poorly, every game, in this series could have gone either way. They could easily have been swept, or have swept the Hawks, but appropriately, the series is tied. Obviously the absence of David Backes has played a big part, in the losses in Games 3 and 4. We will wait and see if Backes plays tonight. If he does, it could be a huge boost, for the Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko has 4 goals, in as many games, this series. Kevin Shattenkirk has arguably been the Blues most dangerous player, during this series. Look for Steve Ott to try and agitate the Hawks into the penalty the box, especially with the home crowd, on his side.
In net, for the Blues, will be Ryan Miller. Miller has had a very good series, with the exception of the soft goal, given up, in Game 3. During this series, Miller has put up a solid .914 Save Percentage.
The Blackhawks will need to attack early and fast, all the while being smart, if they want to win, tonight.
STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX! I’m looking at you, Andrew Shaw.
The Hawks have the Blues right where they want them, and a win tonight, in St. Louis may virtually end the series. Yes, the Hawks will have to win one more game, but after losing 2 in a row, a loss at home, now, would be demoralizing, to the Blues. Patrick Kane looked like his usual self, in Game 4. Maybe he’s used to the knee-brace, now, and we can expect some more offensive dynamics, from him. Bryan Bickell continues to excel, in the playoffs, as he has had a remarkable series, thus far, after a less than stellar regular season. Ben Smith is really proving to be a commodity, on the Hawks. The typically bottom six forward excelled on a scoring line, with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
In net, for the Hawks, will be Corey Crawford. Although, he wasn’t nearly as spectacular, as he was in Game 3, Crawford got the job done, in Game 4. A couple soft goals, yes, but several clutch saves, kept the Hawks in the game.
This is a big one.
A win for the Blues stops the bleeding, and puts the Hawks on the brink of elimination.
A win for the Hawks keeps the train rolling, and puts the Blues on the brink of elimination, right before the series heads back to Chicago.
Let’s do this!