May 19, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) controls the puck ahead of Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) in the second overtime period in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
When the Chicago Blackhawks play hockey with a sense of urgency, most teams end up going to their dressing rooms disappointed. The Anaheim Ducks know this all too well. However, the series is tied at 2-2 as we head into Game Five, which will be played in Anaheim. Hopefully, this late-series game on the road will pull the urgency out of the Hawks. We shall see.
Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM Central Time. Tonight’s game can be seen on NBCSN and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.
Here’s a statistical look at how both teams have fared throughout the playoffs.
[table id=161 /]
Generally, the Hawks have been controlling the puck and shot attempts, but the advantage that home ice was expected to provide wasn’t totally there. Although, that can largely be blamed on coaching decisions.
While the Hawks controlled the puck throughout most of Games One & Two, they didn’t always have that urgency to create the dirty goal opportunities. This urgency would emerge throughout the various overtimes throughout the series and the dirty goal chances could also be found.
Special Teams took a dramatic upturn in Game Four. Brandon Saad’s shorthanded goal in the 1st period was a huge jolt to the Hawks, the United Center and most importantly going forward, the Penalty Kill.
Late in the third period of Game Four, Patrick Kane scored a clutch Power Play goal to tie the game and send it to overtime. Finally, a game where Special Teams made a positive difference for the Hawks. Hopefully, they can keep this going in Orange County.
It seems the Ducks haven’t realized that it’s detrimental to your team to take so many penalties in a hockey game. Hopefully, this continues. It would be foolish to expect consistency from the Hawks’ Power Play, but when given bulk quantities of opportunities, even their lackluster Power Play will likely find the back of the net.
The Ducks seems to be sticking with and even upping their strategy of being physical and wearing down the Hawks’ defenseman. It hasn’t happened yet, as both of the multi-overtime games have been lost by the Ducks and won by the Hawks. So, who’s getting tired?
Ryan Kesler has been physical and playing strong defensive hockey throughout the series in hopes of shutting down Jonathan Toews. He’s done an okay job, but Toews still has 3 points in 4 games and Kesler has one point, so…yeah. Weirdly, the Toews/Kesler matchup is the once that both coaches seem to want.
Corey Perry has 2 goals to go along with 6 penalty minutes in this series, so that should go down in the “so far, so good” column for the Hawks.
Ryan Getzlaf has had a very nice series so far with 5 points, so far. He’s also been logging a lot of minutes, so his fatigue factor might be something to keep in mind moving forward.
Anaheim’s big star this series has been in net. Frederik Andersen has been very impressive this series and boasts a gaudy .929 Save Percentage throughout the playoffs.
The Hawks had their optimum lineup in Game Four and it showed. We better not ever see Antoine Vermette or Teuvo Teravainen anywhere near the press box throughout the rest of the series(and hopefully the rest of the playoffs).
Vermette’s 70% success rate in the faceoff circle is just so damn valuable and that whole game-winning goal thing was pretty great too. Teravainen has that Kane-like offensive black magic that can create offense out of thin air and he requires a great deal of attention from the Ducks.
Niklas Hjalmarsson didn’t have his best game in Game Four by any means. However, he’s been one of the Hawks most steady players over the past three years and there is no reason to worry. Speaking of no reason to worry, Duncan Keith is seemingly not human, which is fantastic.
As long as Corey Crawford sees the puck, he’s probably going to stop it. As long as Hawks’ defenseman aren’t daydreaming and forgetting to clean up pucks more times than not, Crawford is probably going to stop the puck.
There’s no reason to be scared about going back to Anaheim. The closer this series is to finding it’s way to a climactic finale, the closer the Hawks are to swinging in from figurative chandeliers to save the day. It works itself out this way more often than not and it’s totally okay to have faith in these guys.
Happy Memorial Day!