Hawks look to steal game 5 in St. Louis
Wipe the slate clean everything that has gone on in this tremendously well played series is now even. The series is now a best of three with each team having an equal chance to win the series or do they?
The Blackhawks definitely have the momentum thanks to Patrick Kane’s magic in OT in game 4 to pull the Hawks even in the series. There is a huge difference between having the series tied at two games apiece and being down three to one in the series. If the Hawks keep the momentum rolling in St. Louis they could skate away with a road win that they need to advance to the next round.
You have to think that with the Blues being up in games 2-0 like they were last year against the L.A. Kings that saw the Kings eventually come back and oust the Blues has to be weighing on the Blues minds. Self doubt and maybe a lack of experience could come into play.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock may have summed up this series the best in his post game presser after game 3. Hitchcock said when you try to knock off a defending champion it is their resolve your trying to beat not their skill or something to that effect. That is the challenge for the St. Louis Blues.
For the Blackhawks, as the defending Stanley Cup Champions it is time to flex your muscles and will and foist your game on the Blues and not get caught up in their game. The Hawks need to get to the net and establish a presence there. On the power play maybe get more big bodies like Bickell and Saad to block Miller. Keep shooting from anywhere and everywhere Miller’s confidence has got to be a little suspect.
The Hawks will have to do this one more time without Brent Seabrook. As far as David Backes goes there is no official word yet on if he will play on Friday but don’t be surprised to see the Blues captain on the ice. If he does return this could give the Blues an emotional boost.
· Patrick Kane is starting to heat up and look like well Patrick Kane. If he starts feeling it look out this series could turn quickly to Chicago.
· Jonathan Toews leads the team in points with one goal and four assists. His faceoff percentage is among the best in the playoffs which is key to puck possession.
· On the Blues side watch out for the Vlads both Tarasenko and Sobotka for different reasons. Tarasenko is just lethal especially on the power play. The kid is a pure sniper. Sobotka is just an all around two way hockey player. Also defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk leads the team in assists so look for him to continue setting up
· What to look for:
· Line combinations for the Hawks, Coach Quenneville in game 4 came up with some new combinations that seemed to jump start the offense. Coach Q had Toews centering Hossa and Bickell and then the real surprise was Ben Smith centering the Patricks, Sharp and Kane. Look for these new combinations and maybe some new ones we have not seen yet if the Hawks falter or with the Blues having last line change at home dictate change.
· The team that shines on special teams could be the team that moves on to the next round. The team the exercises the wisest choices in staying out of the penalty box will be putting their team in the best position for moving on. Also look for the Hawks to correct those last period goal give-ups.
· Look for some urgency to the Blues game as the pressure has now been squarely put on them to defend at home. Expect them to come out flying with emotion particularly if captain David Backes is back in the line-up.
Injury report – Blues Brendan Morrow will be out for the entire series with a foot injury. David Backes status is unclear and will be a game time decision with upper body injury. Blackhawks are healthy.
Next game Friday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m. CDT at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Tune in to CSN in Chicago or NBCSN nationally; or listen on radio via 87.7FM the Game.