Hawks Face Elimination, Need to Harness Frustration
The Chicago Blackhawks hope to stave off elimination in the United Center Saturday night after a dismal 3-game losing streak to the Detroit Red Wings.
Chicago has consistently done two things in this series against Detroit: come out with lots of energy and fail to convert that energy into goals. Chicago has been held to 2 goals in 3 games, including a shutout in Game 4 Thursday night. Simply put: Chicago has to find a way to break down Detroit if they don’t want their season to end in Game 5.
Despite peppering nearly 70 shots in both games at the Joe Louis Arena, the Hawks could not solve Jimmy Howard. The Wings have a solid hold on the fundamentals of good defense: parking in front of the goaltender. When Howard gives up rebounds (which isn’t as common as it used to be) the Detroit defense is there to clear the puck and prevent second-chance opportunities for the Blackhawks. Even worse for Chicago, they have struggled to keep consistent traffic in front of the net without being forced out by a defender. They need to out-muscle the Wings if they want to score.
Jonathan Toews made headlines in Game 5 for a total loss of composure in the second period. He took three consecutive penalties, one that led to a a Jakub Kindl Power Play goal. The Captain has struggled all throughout the playoffs, being held pointless until his 5th game and continuing his goal-scoring drought to-date. His intensity must be properly focused in order for him to do well. It was not in Game 5.
As for the rest of the offense, there’s hunger and animosity but not enough to make it happen. The Hawks have had a bad habit of sticking to the boards to bail out a teammate going for a wrap-around. The offense can be lethal if Jimmy Howard can be screened more often out in front.
All that said, Chicago still gives Detroit a run for their money. All of these games have been close until one breaking point. Whichever team first cracked it went on to score several more before the game was done – with the exception of Thursday night’s 1 – 0 shutout in Detroit.
Chicago looks frustrated, but frustration can lead to positive things and the Hawks hope to make that happen tonight and prevent the storybook on this season from closing.