After most of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ roster declined to show up for Games 3 and 4 of the series against the Minnesota Wild, the team’s best players took matters into their own hands in Game 5 at the United Center on Sunday.
Bryan Bickell picked up a power play goal to vault himself into a tie for the NHL lead in playoff goals. He provided his typical physical play as well, throwing four hits in just 13 minutes of ice time. Hopefully, Joel Quenneville will permanently reunite Bickell with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on the first line, a trio that was playing extremely well together prior to Game 3.
Speaking of Toews, he had his hands all over Chicago’s win on Sunday after being a non-factor in the previous two games. He scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, something Toews has been doing regularly; of his five goals this postseason, four have been game winners. He also won 60 percent of his face-offs and benefited greatly from the Blackhawks having the option of last change, which allowed him to largely avoid matching up against Mikko Koivu.
Corey Crawford was excellent, bouncing back strongly after a rough performance in Game 4. He stopped 27-of-28 Minnesota shots and was the single biggest reason why Chicago managed to hold onto its 2-1 lead despite committing to a passive 1-2-2 forecheck far too early in the third period. If the Blackhawks make it to the Stanley Cup Final again this season, Crawford’s name has to be at the forefront as far as Conn Smythe candidates are concerned.