WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes on the Blackhawks throughout their postseason run as well as predictions on the rest of the NHL
When the stakes are their highest and it’s time to eliminate an opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks get the job done, that as much as anything else has made them one the successful teams in recent years in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Saturday night Chicago once again showed its ability to overcome, withstanding an early barrage from the Nashville Predators, creating its own barrage and later outlasting the game and upstart team from Tennessee, closing out the six-game series by a score of 4-3 in Game 6, the difference coming from star defenseman Duncan Keith, who scored his second goal of the playoffs at 16 minutes, 12 seconds into the third period.
After a grueling six-game set it’s on to round two for the Hawks to face an even more familiar foe, the Minnesota Wild, who clinched their second-round berth over the St. Louis Blues Sunday by a score of 4-1 in Game 6 of their series. This will be the second year in a row these divisional rivals face off in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Info for Round 2 has yet to be released, but you’ll get that and a complete series preview from yours truly prior to Game 1 of the Hawks/Wild series. As for now, here’s my statistical breakdown and takeaway from the series.
Games 5 through 7 under coach Joel Quenneville
Record = 22-5
Goals Per Game = 3.51
Goals Allowed Average = 2.44
CHI — Went 1 of 2 on the power play.
CHI — Jonathan Toews collected 3 points in Game 6, including 2 assists.
CHI — Patrick Kane scored two points, including his first goal of the postseason in Game 6.
NSH — James Neal led the Preds with 2 goals.
CHI — Kris Versteeg, Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell combined for 0 points in Game 6.
CHI — Marian Hossa hasn’t scored one goal in his last 17 playoff games.
NSH — Collin Wilson, Viktor Stalberg and Mike Fisher combined for 0 points Game 6.
Goals: Colin Wilson (NSH), 5
Points: Jonathan Toews (CHI), 8
Goals Allowed Average: Scott Darling (CHI), 2.22
Key Stats (Final)
Goals Against: NSH (2.46), CHI (2.27)
Penalty Kill %: NSH (80.8), CHI (83.4)
Faceoff %: NSH (48.9), CHI (52.0)
What did we learn in this series?
The Hawks have two solid goaltenders, each one at the ready to relieve the other. Earlier in the series it took Scott Darling’s reserve to help keep the Hawks from falling behind in this series and keeping Corey Crawford from being seen as its goat. By the series’ end, the roles reversed and Crawford saw to it that Chicago finished the job despite Scott Darling’s bad performance early in Game 6.
Staying patient through Nashville’s strong and physical play, the Hawks got the clutch goals they needed and they managed to withstand inconsistencies in their defense yet again. The Predators are a resilient bunch and gave the Hawks all they could handle even after injuries to key stars in Shea Webber and Mike Fisher. Nashville should and will be a team to be reckoned with in the near future.
With a rematch with the Minnesota Wild now slated for Round 2 the Hawks can best believe they’ll be in for an even tougher, more emotional series of hockey games to come. How will that all play out? STAY TUNED!
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