May 2, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin (not pictured) is called for a 4 minute major high sticking penalty for cutting Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) below the nose during the first period of game one of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks organization and fans currently await the answer of who they will be facing in the Western Conference Finals. They will only have to wait several more hours before they find out tonight if the Blackhawks will either have home ice advantage vs. the LA Kings or if they will they be hopping on a flight to face the Anaheim Ducks on the road. Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon and either way, the Chicago Blackhawks will be faced by a tough opponent in the next round. The chance to play for the Stanley Cup will be on the line and the stakes are even higher this far into the NHL Playoffs. With that being said I would like to take a moment to discuss what the Chicago Blackhawks need to win the Western Conference Championship.
Better Discipline/Less Penalties
The Chicago Blackhawks have put up stellar penalty kill numbers through the first two series. In the first round vs the St. Louis Blues the Blackhawks killed 27 of 29 power plays in the series. Then vs. the Minnesota Wild the Blackhawks defended 18 of 20 power plays in the series. Hats off to the guys who held it down and put their bodies out on the line blocking shots, most notably Niklas Hjalmarsson who leads the entire NHL Playoffs in that category. However, you should not get too excited about a good penalty kill since this means the team’s best scoring threats remain on the bench. With the shots on goal decreasing by the offensive players this can be very hampering on the Blackhawks scoring. Not only that, it puts more pressure on Corey Crawford to be near perfect as he has been but you can’t always put that load on him. There needs to be an emphasis put out by Coach Q to play smart and simple, it can go a long way for the entire team.