The Blackhawks hope to bounce back from a 4 – 1 loss in the United Center Saturday afternoon that allowed Detroit to tie up the series 1 – 1 before heading to Detroit.
Monday evening’s game at the Joe Louis Arena is sure to be a tough one for the Blackhawks, primarily because of the energy in the building. Wings’ fans are not shy about letting the opponent know just what they’re up against, which fires up the skaters. Lucky for Chicago, the Blackhawks have proven that they are capable of surviving the blow of a loud crowd during the regular season. With the intensity of the playoffs and a healthy lineup, the Motor City is in for a rousing game.
Detroit was able to down the Hawks 4 – 1 in Chicago after a defensive letdown from the Madhouse Gang. Through the first four periods of the series, Chicago had done a wonderful job of keeping Detroit’s hungry offense effectively stifled. But Detroit found a way to break through, scoring two goals in each of the last two periods of Saturday’s game. Wings’ Head Coach Mike Babcock had talked about how he wanted his team to ramp up the intensity, and was pleased with the outcome.
“Obviously, we were disappointed that we didn’t play the way we were capable of in Game 1,” said Babcock. “If we do what we normally do we’ll be right here and it will be a tight series and we’ll have an opportunity.”
Chicago’s defense seemed to be the main problem in Game 2, but the offense needs to find a way to break through the muck that Detroit is so adept at creating. Jonathan Toews, one of the most skilled players in the NHL, recorded only 3 assists in 7 postseason games and has to be better. He works hard in the corners and always skates with intensity, but he needs to find a way to cash that in. He expressed his frustration Saturday:
“We knew they were going to come back and play much better than they did in Game 1,” said Toews. “Obviously we didn’t quite match that effort.”
Chicago knows they have to be better in Game 3 against Detroit, for going down 2 – 1 is not a plan for the Blackhawks. Viktor Stalberg saw the game from the bench after Head Coach Joel Quenneville was unsatisfied with his lack of production over the past several weeks. He looks to return to the lineup and earn his spot in the team Monday night. Dave Bolland saw the replacement spot after battling a groin injury that sidelined him for the first round of the playoffs. He was nearly 60 percent at the faceoff circle and created some nice opportunities that Chicago simply could not cash-in.
Chicago’s major Achilles’s Heel is the Power Play – it is 1 for 5 against Detroit and 3 for 18 in the postseason altogether. It’s Penalty Kill, on the other hand, is spectacular and the only one on the league that has yet to allow a PP goal. But that is not enough to make up for the lack of production with a man-advantage. Despite his best efforts, Nick Leddy can only carry the puck into the zone so many times given the amount of PP time he is allotted -which is meager compared the rest of Chicago’s defensemen.
Overall, Chicago must be wary of getting too physical (ahem, Andrew Shaw) and focus on puck possession in front of Jimmy Howard. And traffic. Traffic, traffic, traffic. It’s the most important thing Chicago can do against Detroit. Taking a look at the majority of Chicago’s shots on goal, many times there is not screen in front of the net, and Detroit has a tight square in front of Howard every time. It’s good fundamental hockey from Detroit, from Chicago needs to make sure that screen is in place to catch rebounds and open up scoring opportunities.
Chicago has a healthy lineup and there is no word yet on scratches for tonight’s game. Detroit is still missing Darren Helm (back) and Danny DeKeyser (thumb) are battling injuries and are unlikely to play Monday night.
Faceoff tonight is at 6:30 p.m. CT in Detroit.