Repeat Saturday. That’s the focus of the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night as they look to stay alive yet again as they face the Detroit Red Wings.
Chicago forced Game 6 on Saturday night with their backs against the wall, and they finally looked good doing it. The quick starts Chicago is known for somehow cost them three games in a row as they couldn’t convert the energy into points on the board. Saturday’s game changed that and saw a two-goal outing from Andrew Shaw and (finally) a goal by Captain Jonathan Toews. The defense sufficiently shut down much of the momentum Detroit could gain, and Crawford bailed the team out when they didn’t. They looked good. And Monday night, they look to do it again.
Detroit has been making it look easy against the Blackhawks. The likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyqvist have been very physical, making things difficult for Chicago. Combine that with the phenomenal play of Jimmy Howard between the pipes, and the Hawks look like they couldn’t crack the code for 3 straight games. That changed Saturday night.
A full-team effort led to a 4 – 1 victory and a two-goal night from Shaw, who has been making fans nervous in this series. His emotion and enthusiasm for the game is not in question, just his control. Shaw has gotten very physical against Detroit but has been borderline reckless more than a few times. Not only was he able to stay out of the box, he was able to light the lamp twice – once off a slim wrap-around the Howard could not contain. He has been better, and his linemates deserve some credit.
What really allowed Chicago to avoid elimination Saturday was the ferocity of the offense. Howard had to stop 45 shots Saturday night – no small feat for any goalie. He came up with some key saves, but Chicago was all over the rebounds given out from the goaltender. When there was no rebound, patience was key. Howard plays best when he takes away shots along the ice, so he tempts the shooter with seemingly open lanes down low but also has the capability to rob goals with his glove hand. Chicago was able to show good patience and make Howard commit before shooting – ultimately resulting in a Toews goal, his first of the playoffs.
Tonight’s match will see Detroit determined to send Chicago home empty-handed. It is not time to panic for the Wings, but some urgency will be shown tonight from both sides.
Chicago must focus on repeating Saturday’s performance. Solid passes, attacking the crease for rebounds, and good defensive sticks will help lead them to a victory.
It’s do or die again for Chicago tonight. Game 6 begins at 7 p.m. CT.