Chicago – The Blackhawks find themselves in a very advantageous position even though the series is tied at one game apiece. We haven’t seen the best from the Hawks, and that shouldn’t bode well for the Coyotes.
The Hawks will be playing on home ice for the next two games but thus far, they haven’t played that great in total. There have been flashes of solid, effective effort but it hasn’t been sustained. The Coyotes have had something to do with the inconsistency but there is no doubt the Hawks can ramp things up to another level. Tuesday night is the time to shake the will of the Coyotes.
Corey Crawford has played well enough to win both games. His performance in Game 2 exceeded goalie Mike Smith’s effort and should bolster Crawford’s confidence. By scoring four times on Saturday, including another last second third period tally, the Hawks should be riding high. The Blackhawks will be charged up by a capacity United Center crowd but must avoid being too emotional and becoming undisciplined. So far, except for the Andrew Shaw fiasco, the Hawks have kept their discipline.
Smith hasn’t appeared shaken but he hasn’t really been a difference maker so far. The Coyotes have done a fine job of frustrating the top Blackhawk scorers. Fortunately the Hawks depth was the difference on Saturday. If Crawford can build on the last two games he might be able to get on a nice run.
This is the time for the Blackhawks to put the hammer down and steamroll the Coyotes. It will only happen by having more passion and “want to” than Phoenix. The table is set for the Hawks to break the will of the Coyotes, who probably feel like they should have won both of their home games. If the Hawks could control Tuesday night’s contest and come away with a convincing victory, some doubt may enter the collective psyche of the Coyotes.
The Blackhawks have issues but they are also an extremely competitive group with high-end talent.
To be successful in the playoffs it boils down to having the will to overcome. For the Hawks, that would mean winning despite a poor power play. In addition, despite losing too many faceoffs and not blocking enough shots the Hawks must find a way to succeed. Careless turnovers have to be limited as do soft goals and if they occur they can’t be the reason for a loss. It all sounds easy but that is hardly the case, but the Blackhawks are in a position to succeed and they should embrace the challenge.
If what has been worked on in practice this week holds true for Tuesday night’s game, Joel Quenneville plans on changing line combinations.
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