May 11, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalieCorey Crawford
(50) is congratulated by right wingMarian Hossa
(81) after the third period of game five of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center. Chicago won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks are back in familiar territory, holding a 3-2 advantage over the Minnesota Wild after a Sunday night Game Five win that saw the ‘Hawks stop a skid before it became too late. The Blackhawks can take the series on Tuesday night in Minnesota, giving themselves many advantages. Below, we outline the top three reasons the Blackhawks need to finish the Wild in Game Six.
#3: Figure Out The Lineup
The ‘Hawks have had their recent struggles with the roster, and coach Joel Quenneville is in old form, switching the lines every game, and sometimes, more often. Some extra days of practice could be huge for the club, working on developing chemistry with some new lines, or finding it again with the lineup that guided them through the regular season, and even last years’ playoff run. The extra days could be huge for some players, with Andrew Shaw still not skating after an injury in Game One of the series, a healthy, ready-to-play lineup is exactly what the ‘Hawks need if they were to move on.
#2: Hold The Western Conference Final Advantage
With a Blackhawks win on Tuesday night, they could hold a big advantage over the other Western Conference semi-finalists, who would then be battling to meet Chicago in the Conference Final. The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings take to the ice on Monday night to see who will take a 3-2 series lead, but if the loser of Monday’s game forces a Game Seven on Friday night, the Blackhawks would then have at least four days off compared to the winner. That extra fatigue could be a major contributor in the tail-end of the Conference Final series, as the Ducks/Kings could be faltering down the stretch, and could lead to a ‘Hawks berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
#1: Leave No Doubt
The Wild have given the Blackhawks a run for their money in Round Two, but there is no debating who is the better team. The Blackhawks have to prove their worth in this series, and show the rest of the League they mean business. Repeating as Stanley Cup Champs is hard to do, and winning the Stanley Cup without facing elimination one time is just as difficult. The L.A. Kings may have pulled that feat off in 2012, but Los Angeles and Chicago play like two different hockey teams. Some went as far as to accuse the Blackhawks of playing ‘arrogant’ during Game Three and Game Four.Chicago will have to back up some of that poor play with consistency, and winning two games in a row is certainly a way to do that. The Blackhawks wouldn’t be as hot as they were coming in to the second round, with a four game win-streak, but Chicago has to look, feel, and play like they are finally hitting their stride if they want to go more than halfway to the Cup.
A win on Tuesday will mean the ‘Hawks are 8 down, and 8 away from Lord Stanley. One game at a time is how Chicago won the Cup last year, and it will have to be the same story if they want to keep the Cup for themselves.
LET’S GO HAWKS!!
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