Hawks look to close out Blues in game 6
The scene now shifts back to Chicago’s United Center where thanks to a OT game winning goal by the captain Jonathan Toews the Hawks have put the Blues in a potential elimination position for the first time in this series.
All year long in the regular season and at time in the playoffs the Blackhawks have had a problem with closing and finishing games. So far this season there is no game bigger than Sunday’s matinee for the Hawks to finish strong and close out this hard fought series.
The Hawks can close out the Blues if they pay attention to detail and not make any mistakes especially in their own zone or the neutral zone. If mistakes are made teammates need to cover. Now is the time to play that team defensive game while being relentless on the attack.
Watch the odd man rushes which crept into game 5. It may have been luck that Keith found Toews with that stretch pass but it was not luck that had Keith perfectly positioned in the slot to cover up the Crawford rebound off the pads and clear the defensive zone. If the Hawks position themselves solidly they’ll be fine.
The Blues are all too aware of what they need to do having just gone through a eerily similar scenario last year in their series against the LA Kings. The Blues will be mad and desperate and with nothing left to lose the physicality in this series could be ratcheted up even further in this game.
The Hawks have the momentum in the series and need to keep it by finishing the Blues in Chicago plus with this series being so physically demanding they could use the extra time to let their bodies heal. The Hawks don’t want to have to go back to St. Louis or give the Blues any momentum.
The Hawks will also be seeing the return of their star defenseman Brent Seabrook coming back from suspension. This should help coach Quenneville with his defensive pairings and ease bench management. Not to mention Seabrook doesn’t mind the big stages either, he is third on the team in the playoffs with points despite the suspension with 2 goals & 2 assists. Seabrook is always clutch in big games and this will be the biggest game so far of the season for the Hawks. Could we see more OT game winning goals from #7?
· What to look for:
- · Line matchups which go to coach Quenneville’s advantage since the Hawks will have last change. Don’t be surprised if we see him move Toews occasionally away from Backes and with a well rested Seabrook we could see he and Keith out when the Backes line is on the ice.
- · The Hawks need to stay out of the penalty box and away from any unnecessary after whistle skirmishes. The Hawks have already taken too many penalties in this series to take more is pressing your luck.
- · Don’t be surprised if this game comes down to which goaltender makes the bigger saves at critical times in the game. To that end faceoffs will be key which the Blackhawks could improve upon here.
- Patrick Sharp could start to heat up and have a big game he is due for a breakout game. Brandon Saad as well was coming on strong at the end of game 5 look for him to try to dominate in the offensive zone.
- Look out for Vladimir Tarasenko don't give him any space as we've seen his shot is lethal.
Injury report – Blues Brendan Morrow will be out for the entire series with a foot injury. Blackhawks are healthy.
Next game Sunday, April 27, at 2:00 p.m. CDT. Tune in to NBC in Chicago or listen on radio via 87.7FM the Game.