Today’s chapter of Chicago Blackhawks Semifinals Notes does not suck. In fact, it’s a happy time here at the ranch after the Blackhawks made good on their promise to buckle down and focus on one game at a time. Everything went right, even down to the previously poo-filled power play, which yielded two goals. All told, four goals gave the Blackhawks a much-needed Game Five win to keep them alive.
What finally broke for the Blackhawks? It was a combination of things that caused the stars to align. First, Joel Quenneville mixed up the lines again but did so in a good way. He reunited not just the tried and true line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, but he brought back the old defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The line and pairing shuffling not only worked to shut down the Detroit Red Wings’ top two lines, but it increased Seabrook’s ice time and confidence in his play.
The second is that the power play finally worked. I don’t know what clicked, but fans were given the chance of seeing not one but two power play goals. And wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, Toews scored one of them, his first of the playoffs. That finally lifted the frustration from the team in general and Toews in particular.
Speaking of Captain Serious, one more thing worked in the Blackhawks’ favor. There was a huge change in Toews’ demeanor between Game Four and Game Five. Gone was the angry, frustrated young man who racked up three consecutive penalties. In his place was a confident player who became even more confident with that first playoff goal. His attitude spread through the team and fueled their win.
So what should the Blackhawks do? Absolutely nothing different. Just do what they did for Game Five. Shut down those top Red Wings lines. Keep that power play magic going. That will be the key to forcing a seventh game and heading to the Western Conference Final. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.