If you are a Chicago Blackhawk fan you know this slogan very well. When you visit the team website you see it, when you watch the games on TV you see it.If you live near Chicago its all you see. Even the higher ups in the organization said that coming into this year it was One Goal or Bust.
Well after yesterday’s 3-2 OT win against the Sharks this team is one win away from trying to capture that One Goal. One win away from getting back into the Stanley Cup Finals. One win away from sending the city of Chicago into a frenzy.
There is one problem with this though. The San Jose Sharks are not going to lay down and give the Hawks that one win. If you are a Chicago Blackhawk fan and think that tomorrow’s game is going to be a walk in the park, I would suggest not tuning in. The Sharks are going to come out and try to prove that they can hang with Chicago, and the Hawks will have to be ready for it.
How can the Hawks prepare for this? By keeping it clean and simple, do not take dumb penalties, and do not get cute. My people have talked about the referees in the playoffs, and they may have a point, but the only way to avoid those is by not putting yourself in those situations. What do I mean about not getting cute? Leave the “euro-style” play at home. The Hawks must continue to dump and chase, it is the only way they are going to sustain any type of pressure against the Sharks.
Another the thing the Hawks need to do is continue the face-off domination. Blackhawk Centers won 57% of the face offs last night (thanks to Savoir_Faire_18 for the numbers), with many of those coming in key situations. If the Hawks can continue to win face-offs and implore the dump and chase this team has a very good chance of walking away with a sweep.
The very last thing the Hawks need to do is get in front of Nabokov. If you go back to Game 2, when the team really played their best game of the series, all the goals but one came via net presence. Dustin Byfuglien and Johnathan Toews are absolute monsters in this role, and they can make any goalie’s life a nightmare when the shots are coming.
Niemi_No_No’s Three keys to the game:
Penalties: Keep them to a minimum. In the two games where they Hawks took 5 or more penalties, Antti Niemi has seen 40+ shots. If not for the Finnish Fortress standing on his head at times this series could be a completely different story.
Find Patrick Marleau: If there has been one constant force for the Sharks in this series, it would be Patrick Marleau. 4 goals in the last two games, 2 of those coming off of power plays. The way it looks right now, if you shut down Marleau, you shut down the Sharks.
Energy Level: The Hawks must come out with the same energy they have shown in first three games of this series. We have seen them come out flat when they have a chance to end it on home ice (see the Vancouver series). They will have to match the Sharks energy from the start and weather the early storm.
Look for my Game 4 Preview after tomorrow’s game.