Will the collective fan base of the Chicago Blackhawks please step away from the ledge? While the Hawks have not looked their best in the last two games they still hold home ice advantage, and you can guarantee Joel Quennville is working overtime trying to figure out a way to get his top line going. This is the first time in these playoffs that the team has actually been challenged, and if the regular season was any indicator they will rise up to the challenge.
Now what can we expect from Coach Q? Line Juggling, and more line juggling. Now the question becomes who goes where? If the reports floating around twitter and the web are any indicator, Andrew Ladd could move to the first line replacing Patrick Kane would would shuffle down to the third line. This would split up the Hawks two best scores, forcing Philly to construct a game plan to stop both of them. Another possibility would be to move Hossa up to the first line, and send Kane down to the second line. Hossa has the ability to win the board battles and possibly keep the Flyers D from focusing in on Byfuglien and Toews. You can guarantee that whatveer Q comes up with, it will add a spark to the offense.
With the line juggling going on Chicago has to bring the intensity and determination they brought in the last 10 minutes of Game 4. They kept it simple and forced Philadelphia to play their type of game. If it was not for that third period this blog would be more about next year than Game 5. It seemed like something finally clicked inside the Hawks and they realized that they must turn it up. Whatever was said, or whatever the Hawks figured out they must carry it over to tomorrow’s game.
Probably the biggest factor going into this game is penalties. The Blackhawks have lost their composure on numerous occasions, and with inconsistent ref’s they simply can not take these penalties. The good news that came out of Game 4, was that while they took penalties they were also able to kill them off with ease. The Hawks must put it out of their heads that Philly is not getting called for the same things they are, and just go out and play their game.
BHOD Three Keys to the Game:
Passing: Chicago’s passing has been anything but crisp in the last 4 games. They have to improve their passing to gain the zone and to also get the puck out of their own zone. The Hawks must get back to their tape to tape passing, and get rid of the drop passing that they have implored in the last few games.
Pucks on net: We saw in the 3rd period that all you have to do is throw a puck at the net, and good things will happen. It doesn’t matter if its a clear shot, or a easy shot Chicago must make Leighton sweat. Philadelphia has done this all series and it has paid dividends, as you saw on the game winner in game 4.
Aggression: Jump on them early, and hit them hard. Chicago has to come out with an intensity that we have not yet seen from them in this series. To go back on what I said earlier, they have to repeat their 3rd period performance in order to have any chance at winning the cup. The Hawks have to know by now that they will not beat the Flyers on just skill alone, they have to play with some fire.