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
Okay everyone, breathe. The Chicago Blackhawks did in fact force a Game 7 Wednesday night. The Blackhawks were spearheaded by Andrew Shaw’s two goal night as well as a mighty fine display of moves, dekes, and other ridiculous trickery by Patrick Kane. But that’s another story. On the heels of Game 6 come a few takeaways from Game 6:
1. The Blackhawks we know and love finally show up
It’s true, the Chicago Blackhawks seemed to be a little hesitant to play their game at times throughout the series, but the Blackhawks of legend seemed to appear at one of the most convenient times. Passes through the neutral zone were crisp. tape-to-tape, even the blue line drop passes worked. The Ducks countered the Hawks excellent speed and neutral zone play with the Hawks cryptonite, good ole’ bone-crushing physicality. The Hawks seemed to not back down from impending contact, using their moves to evade it, as Patrick Kane loves to do.
2. Discipline, Discipline, Discipline
I’m not talking staying out of the box, well, not all of it. The Blackhawks only afforded the Ducks three power play chances, the same number the Ducks afforded the Hawks, there was one difference however, the Hawks converted once on their chances, the Ducks? Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. But penalties aside, there was an instance late in the game, with the Ducks desperate, where a scrum occurred around Corey Crawford, Andrew Shaw was repeatedly jostled, pushed, and even punched by Ducks players. What convinced me the Hawks clamped down on discipline however, is that Shaw didn’t retaliate. This speaks volumes about the coaching up that Q has done with Shaw for late games.
The Hawks had met a wall in Frederik Andersen, and while this series has been fairly high-scoring, Andersen has made some key saves for the Ducks throughout this series. Not so in this game as it appeared Andersen used all of his miraculous saves in the first and early second period. First it was Saad going five-hole on a breakaway, then it was Hossa on what was an absolutely filthy setup following a series of shot fakes by Duncan Keith. After that the defense of Anaheim was largely at fault for Kane’s goal, letting him dance throughout the slot and fire a shot that trickled through Andersen’s seemingly leaky five-hole.
Then, Corey Crawford was beat by a redirect by Patrick Maroon, following that a ridiculous save on Kruger by Andersen, Clayton Stoner ties it up, but then a miraculous backhand by Shaw which was followed up by an empty netter gave the Hawks some insurance.
4. Duncan Keith
I am fully convinced Duncan Keith wandered onto the set of the newest Terminator movie and got one of those titanium frame because no matter how hard you hit him, or how many shifts he takes, he always comes back for more. The man is a machine, a freak of nature. He logged 28:35 minutes of ice time (below his playoff average considering the other superhuman numbers he’s logged) and he just will not quit.
5. The Return of “The Mutt”
Ah playoff Andrew Shaw, you’ve been missed dearly. This season and last, Shaw has gotten a bad rap for committing offensive zone penalties and other mistakes at inconvenient times, not so last night. The “Mutt” as he’s known, showed his pure, gritty forward side that made him a hero of the 2013 season and playoffs. He contributed with a multi-goal game that included that timely goal that gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead, and the empty netter as well.
Well Hawks fans, for the next two and a half days, we will all be nervous wrecks as we await the fate of our beloved hockey team, but by winning in Chicago, the boys control their own destiny