We’ve been here before. Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks were down 3-1 to the rival Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the playoffs. All seemed lost when a Game 5 win rallied the troops. After that, a Game 6 comeback win gave the Hawks hope they could actually complete the series comeback, which they eventually did.
Conversely, the St. Louis Blues were in this position last season. They went up 2-0 in their opening series against the Los Angeles Kings before losing four games in a row to get knocked out. After starting up 2-0 in this series, it appears the Blues could be headed down the same road this season.
In a pivotal Game 5, the Hawks and Blues traded punches, with each team getting their fair share of chances in regulation. First, the Blackhawks got on the board when Marian Hossa finally netted his first goal of the playoffs. His 28 shots on goal in these playoffs lead the NHL and he finally got on the board. From there, the Blues tied the game at 1-1. Both teams traded blows once again and at the end of regulation, the score was 2-2.
Whoever scored the next goal would have the distinct advantage in the series. As defenseman Duncan Keith tried to clear the puck, it found a breaking Jonathan Toews, who deked goaltender Ryan Miller and ended the game.
Clearly, the Blackhawks are exercising their championship pedigree in the playoffs. They’ve been here before and the Blues have been in this same negative situation in the past as well. Game 6 will be very telling of where these franchises are headed long-term. If the Blackhawks win, they are one step closer to becoming hockey’s next dynasty. If the Blues win, they have a chance to win Game 7 at home.
Should that happen, they will finally break through and could be legitimate Cup contenders.
As long as the Blackhawks can keep momentum and close the Blues out at home, they will solidify themselves as the favorites in the Western Conference. That should scare the rest of the NHL.