Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blackhawks Have Backs Against The Wall - How They Win

The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a win or die situation as they try to extend their series against the St. Louis Blues, trailing three game to one in the best of seven series or be eliminated.

They will be without the services of Andrew Shaw who was suspended by the NHL for using a gay slur at the end of Game 4's 4-3 loss.  Shaw has been one of the Hawks' best players in this series leading the team in scoring with 4 points (2G 2A).  They will have to

So what do they need to do to come back in this series?

Discipline.  Back in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks were in this exact situation against the Detroit Red Wings, trailing 3-1 in the series.  They allowed Detroit to get into their heads, just as St. Louis is now in this current series.  The Hawks took at least 3 stupid penalties last game.  When they play without discipline, they play with the wrong emotions.  St. Louis is taking them out of their game.  They go for the hit, and not the puck.  They need to play their game, they have the better talent.

Scoring.  They are always minimal come playoff time as defense becomes a bigger part of the game.  The Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Andrew Ladd have combined for 0 goals.  That's ZERO goals, in this series.  St. Louis' defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo (28:48 TOI), and Jay Bouwmeester (24:43 TOI) have shut them down, not to mention goalie, Brian Elliott, 1.70 GAA, and a .954 SV%.  Joel Quenneville has juggled lines as much as a clown juggling bowling balls, but with no success.  Now, they mus do it without Shaw.

Net Presence.  The Blackhawks are leading the playoffs with 38 shots on goal per game.  Unfortunately, many of these shots come with no one in front of the net, screening Elliott.  Shaw was a big part of what little net presence the Hawks had.  He had a huge goal in Game 2, and he screened Elliott on Keith's, and the Hawks' first goal of the playoffs, which took nearly six periods to get.  All of the Hawks' have to crash the net and disrupt the clear view that Elliott has been getting for at least half of the shots thrown at him.  The Hawks have had puck control, but not good shots.

Faceoffs.  The Hawks are winning 49% of their draws.  Doesn't sound bad, right?  Jonathan Toews has taken 40% of all the faceoffs in the first four games of this series.  He has won 56% of his draws.  Oh, and Shaw, he has won 60% of his.  The Hawks flip a puck on Elliott, who freezes the puck.   Next faceoff, the Hawks lose the draw.  They have to start winning those draws, see Keith's goal with :05 remaining in the period.

The Hawks have their work cut out for them, but they have been here before.  They need to focus and take each game, each face off, one at a time.




  1. Love my BlackHawks, but watching this series it just looks to me like the Blues want it more this time. They are after all a really good team in the hardest division in the NHL.

    1. Both teams have played well. The Hawks have had good puck possession. They are snake bitten when it comes to good bounces. Some times you need those.