If there’s one thing certain about the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s that they tend to prove critics wrong. A lot. Of course, they also prove them right sometimes. In these past two games against the St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks have cleaned up their act, playing smarter, cleaner hockey (at times) that have completely turned the tables and changed the fabric of this series. With a Game 6 in Chicago guaranteed, the Hawks are looking good.
Of course, they still blew a 2-goal lead. Giving up stupid penalties and soft goals can only be forgiven if they win in the end. But Patrick Kane got a bad penalty that allowed the Blues to get on the board in the first place. Of course, he ended up scoring the game-winning goal. Other mistakes also allowed the Blues to tie the game and score the go-ahead goal (before Bryan Bickell deflected a shot from Michal Roszival that tied the game).
Still, there were plenty of good things to see. First off, the power play. They finally scored! Andrew Shaw was in the right place at the right time to deflect a puck past Ryan Miller during the 4-goal second period. That was followed by Patrick Kane putting the Hawks up 2-0 on a fantastic play by Ben Smith (had Vladimir Tarasenko not been second-star of the game, he should have been among the three Stars).
Speaking of Kane, the forwards finally got going, and so did the overtime unit. Putting Kane on the same line as Jonathan Toews is usually a last-gasp attempt, but it works so well. The Hawks’ energy throughout the game was equally refreshing. While the Blues dominated in spurts, good things happened when the Hawks dictated the pace of play. Of course, it helps that they dominated play in overtime.
Last night was not perfect. But it’s definitely a good sign. The Hawks will have to improve on it going into Game 5 in St. Louis. That will have to be their best game so far, but that’s for another time. For now, the Hawks have the much-needed momentum going back to St. Louis. If there’s any team that can finish the job, it’s the Hawks.