Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ 6 Keys To Tying Series Vs. Blues

By Colin Likas
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (right) is congratulated for scoring by right wing Patrick Kane (left) and center Jonathan Toews (center) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (right) is congratulated for scoring by right wing Patrick Kane (left) and center Jonathan Toews (center) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Blackhawks Have Tied Blues For Six Reasons

What a difference a few days makes, huh? The Chicago Blackhawks woke up Thursday morning knowing they trailed their Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series 3-1 heading back to St. Louis. The Blues looked comfortable and confident, while the Blackhawks look tired and frustrated. There was no better evidence of that than Andrew Shaw‘s obscene language and gesture toward a referee and a postgame scrum following the Blues’ win in Game 4.

The Blackhawks woke up Sunday morning, however, to a tie series. It’s almost incredible considering what all transpired in the last two games, but we should really know by now not to count out this core, no matter the circumstances.

And so now, the Blackhawks look like the comfortable, confident team — though maybe still tired — while the Blues look psyched out and very concerned. How did we get to this point, outside the obvious (they won twice)? Here are five keys to the Blackhawks turning around this series.

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Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Richard Panik (14) and St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) and goaltender Brian Elliott (1) watch the puck during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Everybody Is Contributing Offensively

It was noted many of the Blackhawks’ star players weren’t producing much through the first four games. The only guys with multiple goals with the Blackhawks down 3-1 were Duncan Keith with three and Shaw with two. Things are a little better after Games 5 and 6, as you might imagine when a team averages five goals across two outings.

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Artem Anisimov tallied once in both of the last two wins. So did Marian Hossa, with the unique shorthanded-empty net combo. Artemi Panarin now has two goals in the series after striking in Game 5. Shaw added to his total late in Game 6.

But look at the guys with single goals, too. Andrew Ladd, who has gone through ghost-like periods in this series, broke the ice last night. Trevor van Riemsdyk tied Game 6 with a goal. Dale Weise notched the game-winner in Game 6. All critical reasons the Blackhawks are still playing. By the same token, Panarin has five assists overall after just two in the first four games, and Richard Panik has responded to a healthy scratch by assisting on Patrick Kane‘s game-winning goal in Game 5 and TVR’s goal last night.

And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the core guys. Patrick Kane has one huge goal, but also six assists. Jonathan Toews has notched five helpers. Brent Seabrook has somehow been left off the scoresheet the last two games, but he has a goal and an assist in the series.

The Blackhawks have always been at their best when they can roll four lines, and they’re as close to doing that now as they can possibly get in 2016. Speaking of which …

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Apr 21, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville speaks with the media following game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 4-3 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Joel Quenneville Found His (Forwards) Lineup

Q has this strange tic that causes him to ice horrible lineups to start the postseason. We’ve seen it frequently since he arrived in Chicago. But he ultimately figures out what he needs to do in order for the Blackhawks to succeed, and he figured out this year’s solution last night.

Will he keep Kane and Toews together beyond this series if the Blackhawks advance? Who knows. But it’d probably behoove him to do so, considering the other three lines look pretty comfortable. The only real question at this point is whether Panik or Shaw will be on the top-line left wing, and you probably can’t go wrong either way. They’re two of the hottest forwards on the ice.

As for the defense, it may not be perfect, but it’s working for now. After a rotten first period in Game 6, the defense stepped up in a noticeable way. I don’t know that David Rundblad or Erik Gustafsson would play past this series if the Blackhawks advance — a rested Michal Rozsival is still probably a better option and would play more than 11 minutes.

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Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a glove save during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Corey Crawford

Look, I know the guy gave up three goals in real short order Saturday. I know he’s been in net for six goals against over the last two games (granted, one of the games went four-plus periods). But if he’s not in there making some of the stops he’s made, the Blackhawks are toast in Game 5.

After an “easy” six shots in the opening period Thursday, the Blues turned up the heat in a major way, firing 14 shots at Crow in each of the second and third frames.

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After allowing a soft goal to

Jaden Schwartz

in the second period, he pretty much stood on his head and was only beaten by heavy traffic and a deflection. Three goals allowed on 28 shots isn’t great, but given the circumstances it was huge.

And then he followed that with 11 saves in a first overtime during which the Blackhawks looked like the walking dead. Thankfully, the Blackhawks quickly potted a goal in the second overtime so Crow could rest his likely-aching back (after he made one more save in the second OT, of course).

And then, in last night’s game, Crow saw his defense crumble around him early on and couldn’t buy a stop. But after Vladimir Tarasenko beat him glove side with nine minutes left in the first period, Crow locked it down in a huge way. He halted an ongoing onslaught through the rest of the first, then turned away 11 more third-period shots as the Blues pushed. This time, he actually finished with three goals allowed on 28 shots. Again, not great, but given the situation, it was a huge performance.

Next: Three More Reasons For Success

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