First off I would like to welcome back the 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks, good to see you boys its been a while. After four sluggish games it would seem that our beloved team is finally clicking on the right cylinders again. After Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals everyone was asking what happened to the team that looked so confident and exciting against the San Jose Sharks? Well the answer to that question seems to be..they just needed a little shake up.
It was in the final ten minutes of Game 4 that we got our first glimpse of some line changing by Coach Joel Quennevielle. Prior to Game 5 it was reported that the Hawks lines remained the same, but as we all suspected that was just the Hawks not wanting to show their hand. In an attempt to spread out his stars Coach Q moved Marian Hossa up to the first line and paired him with Jonathan Toews and Tomas Kopecky. Dustin Byfuglien was moved down to the third line, and Patrick Kane was moved down to the third line.
From the first puck drop you could tell that this was not the Chicago Blackhawk team we saw in Game 4. This team had the fight and energy you would expect from a team with its back against the wall. It would be very apparent that the line changes did what Coach Q wanted, and that was spread the stars out and make the Flyers pick their poison. Chicago used this to their advantage and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, forcing the Flyers to take penalties and to play on their heels.
Although the Hawks did everything right on offense, they had a few mishaps on defense. If you think back to the San Jose series the Sharks took advantage of the Hawks defense and exploited the little holes they had next to Antti Niemi. Philadelphia has implored the same type of strategy, and so far it has worked. The Flyers had done two things really well so far in this series, passing the puck and creating plays behind the net. Simon Gagne’s third period goal was a perfect example of the Flyers getting off to Niemi’s left and placing a perfect pass to set up the goal.
BHOD The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
The Good: The Hawks offense. It was a long time coming, but the Chicago Blackhawks potent offense finally came to play. Aften a dominating first period that saw the team force the Flyers to bench Michael Leighton, the Hawks came out in the second and third and matched the Flyers goal for goal.
The Bad: Clearing pucks. The Hawks once again struggled to get pucks out of their defensive zone, which led to numerous Flyer chances. On one occasion Brent Sopel went to clear a puck and hit a Flyer player with it, those things just can not happen in games of this magnitude.
The Ugly: Scott Hartnell. At one point in the 2nd period my brother made the statement “Scott Hartnell looks like a yeti.” There really wasn’t anything ugly about the way the Hawks played tonight, so taking a jab at Hartnell will have to suffice.