The Chicago Blackhawks are now down 3-0 in their First Round series, potentially facing being swept for the second straight playoff appearance.
The last time Chicago was in the playoffs was 2017, when they lost that First Round to the Nashville Predators 4-0. They then missed the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019. If they want to avoid their second sweep in a row, some things need to change.
It’s not that the Blackhawks haven’t been battling. The issue has simply been that their fight just hasn’t been strong enough to cause the type of damage needed at this point in the season.
Sure, they shocked the hockey world with their upset through the qualifiers which saw them win their way into a playoff position. But that just isn’t good enough for the Blackhawks franchise.
This is an organization that has become synonymous with victory. At the very least, they are known as a threat to anyone who faces them. Things have changed in recent years and that reputation is at risk.
Chicago needs to win Game 4 in this series. Not only will it avoid the dreaded sweep that’s now in direct view of their sightline, but it would also give them a chance to build some needed momentum that they’ve clearly lacked.
Ensuring that they see a Game 5 means they’ll have to do things differently than they have to this point. Clearly, it’s not working. So, why not try something new?
Overpowering Power Play
A common strategy for many teams is adding extra offense to the mix while they have the man advantage. Meaning, instead of the standard set-up, they’ll go with four forwards and one defenseman.
Chicago’s power play has been abysmal this series, converting 1/7 thus far. With so many proven goal scorers, give them more chances to produce. The Blackhawks should try a five forward power play and see where it takes them.
Defense Runs on Duncan
To no one’s surprise, Duncan Keith leads the Blackhawks in ice time so far this round. He’s logged 77:17 through the first three games. Keith is a fitness fanatic, known throughout the league for his endurance.
As the most veteran leader on Chicago’s back end. Let Keith take complete control of the defensive structure and keep him out there for a minimum of 30:00 throughout Game 4. He can handle it.
Shifting Some Minutes
Not every chance has been capitalized on, having only scored five goals to this point. However, some players continue to create chances more than others. They need to be given the opportunity to keep doing so, playing as much as they can possibly manage.
Give Subban the Start
Corey Crawford has done his job throughout this post-season, which has been especially evident against an offensively talented Vegas squad. Crawford has made key saves, giving his team a chance to compete every game.
That said, sometimes a lineup change can create a spark that isn’t otherwise experienced. Perhaps giving Malcolm Subban his first playoff start, against his former Golden Knights team to boot, could re-energize this roster.
Obviously, these aren’t sustainable strategies for a Stanley Cup run. However, this Chicago Blackhawks team needs to focus on winning at least one game first. And, at this point, they should do all it takes to ensure they make that possible.