Defensive Domination

By Brian Kasnicka

The Chicago Blackhawks took game three of the Western Conference Semi-finals by a score of 1-0 last night.  The Wild, who many thought would send the Hawks home this year, are on the brink of elimination.  Now just because the Hawks are up 3-0 doesn’t mean you can pencil them into the Western Conference Final just yet, however we can relish last nights victory for just a second before turning our attention to game four.

It was no secret that the Hawks had to play better in front of their own net.  Whether Crawford was in goal, or Darling, the Hawks needed to bear down and clear the crease of juicy rebounds.  On Tuesday night they did just that, even though Crawford didn’t leave to many pucks just sitting there.  Crawford made some stellar saves throughout the game including a Dominik Hasek like save, where he dropped the stick and kept the puck from crossing the goal line with an outstretched hand.  Crawford had a magnificent night and even though he can be a little shaky at times he’s a huge part as to why the Blackhawks are up 3-0 in this series.

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Crawford had some help in front of him as well.  Niklas Hjalmarsson had a stellar defensive night.  He has to be one of the most underrated defensemen in the game.  He was all over the ice, blocking shots, getting to loose pucks, and just being in great position all night.  Duncan Keith had himself quite the night as well.  Although both of these guys were held off the score sheet their contributions were felt all across the ice.  The defense has really stepped up as of late and the Chicago Blackhawks are once again looking like a Stanley Cup Champion.

And can we please recognize how talented Marian Hossa is.  The guy is the most underrated two way forward in the game and is no doubt a Hall of Famer in my mind.  Sure he hasn’t been scoring like he wants to, but have you seen him back check?  Last night Zucker stripped Saad of the puck, but who could catch the quick Jason Zucker and strip him off the puck and start a rush the other way?  Oh yeah, that’d be Marian Hossa.

Relishing is now done.  The Wild have been beaten down and are licking their wounds, but don’t think for a second that they’re just going to let the Hawks kick them around in game four.  The Hawks need another great effort like last night, maybe with a little more offense, so I can breathe easy, to beat the Wild.  The Excel Energy Center will be pumping, but the Hawks dealt with that last night and can deal with it again.

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