After a dismal performance at the TD Garden Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks look to even up the series at 2 games a piece in Boston Wednesday night.
For the second game in a row, Chicago looked tired and uninterested in playing for the Stanley Cup Monday night. Yet again, faceoffs started everything off for Boston and took everything away from Chicago. The only Blackhawk that was positive in that respect was Patrick Sharp, who went 3 – 2 at the faceoff dot for the night. Jonathan Toews went 8 – 11. While the numbers could be better, they start to look terrible when compared to the likes of Patrice Bergeron, who lost only 4 faceoffs and won 24 in 60 minutes of play. Worse than that, the Blackhawks struggled to retain possession when they did win a faceoff.
This is a must-win game for Chicago (sort of). Dropping 3 games in a row in poor fashion would be incredibly difficult for the Blackhawks to swallow. Boston is better than Detroit and more physical, too. They have Tuukka Rask, who has been playing like a veteran lately (or at least, the defense in front of him has made him look that way).
According to Eddie Olcyzk, Chicago has only 3 second-chance opportunities on Rask Monday night, which is largely due to that defense in front of the net. Just like the Detroit series, Boston forms a tight box around Rask and can clear the puck with ease. Unless there is traffic.
Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell are just the men for the job. They give the biggest man in the league trouble establishing his net-front presence with great success. It will take some good screens to light the lamp in TD Garden, and both Shaw and Bickell are on the job.
Still, the energy must be there. Take a look at Patrick Sharp whenever he has the puck. He is the hungriest player out there. Or perhaps he’s highlighted by the contrast of his teammates. Patrick Kane hasn’t made very much happen in this series. Toews has been noticeably absent from the scorecard for the whole postseason. And Marian Hossa was a last-minute scratch for Game 3, the cause of much controversy among hockey pundits.
If the energy and enthusiasm is there in Game 4, Chicago can reenter the Madhouse with a tied up series.