The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have their best game of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.
Not by a long shot.
However, when the horn sounded, the Blackhawks skated off the United Center ice with a 2-1 win, and a Final that has now become a first-to-two between themselves, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There was no hiding the Blackhawks’ fortune, in the post game media availability. Even Brad Richards admitted that the ‘Hawks effort was far from what they have produced at this time of year in the past few seasons.
It took a crazy bounce in the final seconds to stop Steven Stamkos from tying the game, but the ‘Hawks got one. It seems the hockey gods were finally on the Blackhawks’ side, after some misfortune all regular season, and through the playoffs.
With an extra day off before Saturday night’s Game Five in Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks have some time to regroup, and ready themselves for the best-of-three that will decide if the Lightning win their second Cup in franchise history, or if the Blackhawks win their third in six seasons.
It’s a position quite familiar to the Blackhawks, who took both the 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cups in Game Six, though both were on the road.
This time, they’ll have to take one win away from Amalie Arena, and Game Five sounds much, much better than Game Seven, for the sake of blood pressure and stress levels among Blackhawks fans.
The Blackhawks should smell blood in the water. They were able to beat the Lightning with one of their worst efforts of the post-season. If they find a way to ‘flip the switch’, like they have countless times before in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they will have a chance to win the Stanley Cup in their own building in Game Six.
With the Lightning either dressing a severely banged-up Ben Bishop, or a rookie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, the cards seem to be in the ‘Hawks favor, as it stands.
However the Lightning are a formidable opponent nonetheless, and the Blackhawks will have their hands full with Stamkos and company, all while trying to get past Viktor Hedman and the Bolts’ beefy blue-line.
It will take a much better effort than the one witnessed on Wednesday, if the Blackhawks want to get any of the two wins left between them and the Cup. However, with Game Five just hours away, Blackhawks’ fans have no need to worry. “Winning Ugly” is no issue when only a pair of wins is left to become Champions.
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