Friday night’s Game 5 is, needless to say, pivotal. Chicago has picked up their play after a terrible first two games in St. Louis, but they have yet to win at the Scottrade Center this season. There would be no better time to end that streak of road futility; the result would be a 3-2 Blackhawks series lead heading back to the United Center, where the Blues have their own streak of ineffectiveness to contend with.
Taking Game 5 in St. Louis will be a major challenge. At the individual level, the Blackhawks will need Patrick Kane to continue playing at the elite level he rediscovered in Game 4. Having the Corey Crawford from Game 3 (rather than the Game 4 version) would also provide a significant boost. A breakout performance from Patrick Sharp, who has had a horrific series so far, could tilt the scales in Chicago’s favor even if one of Kane or Crawford don’t show up in great form.
More important than any individual, however, is the overall team’s game. Chicago lives on puck possession; without it, the Blackhawks are a below average NHL team just as we saw in Games 1-3. Game 4 was the first game of the playoffs in which Chicago possessed the puck more than the Blues did. Carrying that success into Friday night will be key to taking Game 5.