The Chicago Blackhawks are going into game four down in a series, for the first time this post season going down 2-1 to the Red Wings. In game four on Tuesday night the Hawks were out shot, out hit, and completely out worked, by a hungry Detroit team. The debate going on is if this was a loss because of frustration, or a loss because of not playing Hawks hockey.
The Hawks lost their composure in that game early and often, beginning with Andrew Shaw taking a ten minute game misconduct, along with Bryan Bickell throwing out cross checks and nasty hits. The Hawks took seven penalties in the game three of which were taken by Andrew Shaw. The Hawks need to composed, so that they don’t put any added pressure to an already outstanding PK.
The Hawks biggest problem area so far this season has been in the face off dot. This is an area that the Hawks addressed at the trade deadline with the addition on Michael Handzus, however you can’t rely on just one or two players to win faceoffs every game. The Blackhawks need to get better faceoff production from Dave Bolland, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger. The Red Wings have won 100 of 183 draws (54.6 %), and have won the faceoff battle in every game so far.
Coach Q also did his famous line changing, moving Patrick Sharp to the first line and demoting Brandon Saad to the second. Sharp is the team’s leading scorer with six goals and four assist, and says that he isn’t concerned with how long it’s going to last being on the first line.
As usual the Hawks are surrounded with goaltending controversy, with people feeling like Crawford should be taken out for back up Ray Emery. However Crawford is going to remain the number one. Quenneville says that Crawford’s play has been “fine”, the Hawks just need to play better in front of the net, and they can’t keep relying on him to make big stops.
In Game four on Thursday night the Hawks are in a must win situation. If the Hawks lose game four, this series is over, I don’t think the Hawks can come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the series. So far the Hawks have been out played, out hit and out hustled. This is a MUST WIN Thursday night.
Keys to Victory:
Key 1: Win the battle in the faceoff dot. The Red Wings have won 100 of 183 faceoffs and have edged the Hawks in that category in every game in the series. The Hawks need get help in that department from guys like Shaw, Bolland and Kruger, instead of relying in Handzus and Toews to win the faceoffs.
Key 2: Traffic in front of Howard: Detroits net minder has played some very solid hockey so far in this series, and it’s because the Hawks AREN’T screening and making things difficult for him. The Hawks are allowing Howard to get great looks at the puck and allowing him to make the saves without giving up a rebound.
Key 3: Power Play needs to come to life: The Hawks are 1 for 13 so far in this series, and the power play continues to look awful. The Hawks need to start moving and cycling the puck like they did when they were on the streak. If the Hawks can move the puck, rotate players in the offensive zone and get the defense involved, then you will see the PP become more successful.