Chicago Blackhawks Can’t Afford Another Home Loss

By Brian Kinkade

Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) is defended by Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) during the first period of game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The home loss in Game Three for the Chicago Blackhawks really sucked.  It wasn’t a back-breaker, but it sucked.  It sucks losing in front of your home fans and it sucks being down 2-1 in the series.  So, in tonight’s Game Four at United Center, a wise man would expect to come out faster and harder than the Tampa Bay Lightning.  

Tonight’s Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals is set for a 7:00 PM Central Time puck drop.  The game can be seen on NBCSN and can be heard on WGN AM 720.

Not to continue beating this dead horse and no disrespect to the Lightning, but the Hawks have played better hockey in the first three games of the finals.  This has been said over-and-over, but it apparently bears repeating since the Hawks’ fanbase believe the sky is falling.  Trust me, it’s not.

38 shots on goal against a goaltender than can barely move side-to-side.  99.9% of the time, that is a recipe for a big victory.  Credit Ben Bishop and the Lightning for preventing that and stealing a big Game Three victory.

The Hawks are healthily pushing play with a 52.8% Corsi For Percentage.  That means in all likelihood, the Hawks will win the Stanley Cup as long as they keep playing like they are.  The only thing is that they have to bury those ridiculously huge open-net chances that they whiffed on in Game Three.

I’m not going to play the “What if?” game, but…

Give credit to the Lightning though.  They’ve found ways to win Games Two and Three when they probably shouldn’t have.

The Lightning have proven themselves to be a championship caliber team.  They are leading a Stanley Cup Finals series against a proven championship caliber team.  They have beaten the odds and dug deep to find ways to pull off unlikely victories.  They’ve also done it without any offensive production from Steven Stamkos.  Not too shabby.

Victor Hedman has been the star of the series so far.  Whether he’s shutting down one of the Hawks’ top lines or stretching an incredible cross-ice pass that leads to an early road goal for his team, he has been the biggest reason why the Lightning are ahead.

After not producing in Game One, the “triplets” line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat has produced 6 points in the last two games combined.

The big story and the big question has been in net for the Lightning.  The clearly injured Ben Bishop played an extremely gutsy Game Three to help the Lightning to a victory.  This will be the big one(no pun intended) to watch.  He has looked shaky and has a solid but not great .919 Save Percentage.

The Hawks have made some adjustments to the lineup tonight, but most of it should look familiar.

The top line of Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa that was just absolutely ferocious in Game Two will remain intact.

Bryan Bickell is back to being scratched and his spot on the second line alongside Brad Richards and Patrick Kane will be retaken by Kris Versteeg.

Antoine Vermette, Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen will once again be the third line.  This line is so due to produce it’s not even funny.

The fourth line of Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins that has been fantastic will also be back at it in Game Four.  Don’t be surprised if this line eventually lights the lamp.  They’ve been great.

Kimmo Timonen makes his return to the blueline tonight as he replaces Kyle Cumiskey.  Despite missing some time in Game Three, Johnny Oduya will be in the lineup tonight.

Corey Crawford, who was great in Game Three will get the go in net tonight for the Hawks.

This is pretty much a must-win as well as a should win and a probably will win.

Get it done!

Go Hawks!

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