Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons They’ll Win Game 7

By Colin Likas
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Crow feels no pressure. At least he shouldn’t. He stepped up to the plate whenever he was needed Wednesday, stopping 30 shots for a .938 save percentage. The only two goals to get by Crow in the game came off a wild redirection and a play that could have been called goaltender interference. But Crow stayed the course even after Jakob Silfverberg hit Crow’s glove while the goaltender was trying to make a stop, and even while Anaheim controlled the puck for large portions of the third period. More importantly, he got help from his defense clearing pucks out from the crease area in an efficient manner.

But let’s talk more about Crow’s playoff history. Per the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc, Crow stands at 10-3 with a 2.23 goals-against average in postseason elimination games. When the ’Hawks need key saves in games like the one they’ll take part in Saturday, Crow has been there to make them. His positioning has been solid throughout this series, and he’s played his style while letting his defensemen do some good work around him. Essentially, he hasn’t gotten outside himself — he’s keeping it simple and keeping the ’Hawks in games when they’re down while keeping them ahead when they’re up. It’s worth noting, many of the goals that are beating Crow in this series are coming off screens and deflections, while Andersen seems to be experiencing more moments of being beaten by a clean shot. Because of that, as well as his playoff success — he led the team to a Stanley Cup in 2013 — Crow’s confidence should be plenty high heading to California. A confident Crow means a greater chance for a Chicago win.

May 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) reacts after scoring a goal past Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) in the third period in game six of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Andersen is under the gun. He was the talk of the playoffs heading into this series, albeit for defeating Winnipeg and Calgary, teams not nearly on Chicago’s level. But he started the Western Conference finals series strongly as well. He permitted single goals in Game 1 and 3 and just one even-strength strike in Game 2. But things started to change in Game 4. He permitted a shorthanded goal, a powerplay strike and three even-strength tallies while posting an .875 save percentage as the ’Hawks won. He allowed a couple soft goals in Game 5, including Jonathan Toews’ marker that was shot from nearly behind Andersen. His save percentage checked in at .857. And again in Game 6, he was beaten cleanly a few times, including by Andrew Shaw on a backhander late and by Kane’s second-period goal that just trickled through Andersen. That save percentage figure toppled all the way down to .818.

The ’Hawks have shown they won’t be intimidated by any goaltender, and they seem to have finally broken through Andersen. The interesting thing is, the ’Hawks are putting up impressive numbers on the scoreboard despite a low number of shots getting to the net — five goals on 40 shots in Game 4, four goals on 28 shots in Game 5, and five goals on 23 shots in Game 6. This is Andersen’s first time leading a team through a playoff run, and he’s starting to look shaky. With his team struggling to carry the puck for long stretches, Andersen is relied upon heavily to make stops, especially when the ’Hawks’ offense can get past the Anaheim block party (the Ducks have unofficially blocked one million shots in this series). He isn’t coming up with those saves right now, and the ’Hawks can smell blood. Look for them to up the offensive pressure to an extraordinary high to see what gets behind Andersen in Game 7.