All things considered that was probably the most impressive win of the playoffs for the Blackhawks. On the road against a team who had been undefeated at home, without their best defenseman, and a tie series staring them in the face, the Blackhawks came up with a total team effort and a 3-1 lead heading home. Total team effort by the Hawks. A championship effort.
-The Hawks were absolutely dominant in the 3rd period. Took the lead early, and never let their foot off the gas. Out-shot the Kings 9-2 in the period. They dominated puck possession, blocked shots, and were winning battles in key spots. The lead never really felt in danger in the 3rd.
-The Blackhawks knew they were going to have to spread Duncan Keith’s minutes around to the rest of the team and the top four guys for the Hawks really stepped up. Seabrook played 26 mins, Rozsival 25 mins, Hjalmarsson 25 mins, and Oduya 23 mins. They were all very strong defensively. Great gap control all night. Very strong in front of their own net. Virtually mistake free in Game 4. Brookbank…well that’s why he is the 7th defenseman. Really tough spot for him to come in, but the rest of the D picked up the slack for him and the suspended Duncan Keith.
-Bickell continues to be Superman. Hits, board battles, net presence, and goals on goals on goals. Playoff hockey is his kind of hockey. He has been the Hawks most consistent forward in the postseason.
-Even putting his tap in goal he kind of stole from Bickell(better to be safe than sorry against Quick) that was Patrick Kane’s strongest game of the series, and maybe the entire playoffs. He was aggressive, attacking, and looked confident. He went to the hard areas and really used his speed both in transition and in the zone. Need him to let his nuts hang like that the rest of the way.
-Last night was probably Toews’s strongest game too. He struggled on the dot again, which is weird because he is one of the best in the NHL, but other than that he was great. Classic Toews performance. Strong on the boards, lock down defense in his end, and working to create chances from down low. Its amazing that the Hawks are a game away from the Stanley Cup Finals and Kane and Toews are just starting to play like the elite players they are. Has to be a scary thought for Boston.
-Quenneville continues to push the right buttons. The defensive pairings with Keith absent worked out great and flipping Kane and Hossa definitely gave the team a spark.
-I think Hossa’s archery celebration is my favorite in the game right now. Just works for me.
-Quick makes a couple “wow” type saves every game. The way he competes, and his elite athleticism is almost reminiscent of Hasek. Obviously different stylistically, but some similarities.
-Voynov is approaching Datsyuk levels for making me nervous. Every time he has the puck in the Hawks’ zone I feel like I am going to leak a little pee.
-Another strong game from Crawford overall. The second goal was weak, but he has made key saves in big moments all series. Perhaps none bigger than his poke check on Williams that kept the game at 2-1.
This series obviously isn’t over yet. The Hawks have to choke the life out of the Kings once and for all in Game 5. Closing out a team, especially a proud, championship group like the Kings will be a huge challenge. The Hawks can’t give the Kings hope like the Wings gave the Hawks. The Hawks need that killer instinct. It’s time to finish of the Kings and set up an Original 6 Finals. A Barstool Finals. The Series everyone wanted. Stool bragging rights for life. I can taste it. Lets Go Hawks.