No drama, no cheap shots, no extra-curricular affairs, and the Blackhawks come out on top. See what happens when you stick to your game and avoid trying to match the Blues physically?
A 2-0 final that was really a 1-0 game for the most part, the Hawks played a tight game by not giving the Blues many prime scoring opportunities. The Blues had a few chances, but it never felt as if they got much going. At the same time, there were several periods during the game in which the Hawks were reluctant to apply pressure.
All in all, this was the type of game I was expecting at the beginning of the series. Tight defense with each team not allowing the other much zone time. While the Blackhawks seemingly spent more time in the Blues zone, St. Louis did an excellent job of blocking shots while Ryan Miller let very few rebounds go. This was by far the Blues best defensive effort, and the Hawks still came out on top.
If the pace of each game replicates this one, it will play to the Hawks favor. Games 1 and 2 were decidedly in favor of St. Louis’ style of play and is a type of play that the Hawks are simply unable to match.
As playoff series tend to go on, the first two games are generally the most physical, especially in the opening round. Nerves and emotions run high as players are eager to establish themselves. We’ve seen this in each playoff series thus far and historically, players are more reluctant to do something that will put their team at a disadvantage.
As this series fights on, I expect Game 4 and every other game to be similar to the one we just witnessed. The referees did a much better job of controlling the game today and that is something that will play in the Hawks favor.
Throughout this series the Hawks have outplayed the Blues when they have played a possession game instead of trying to be physical. Game 4 will see the Blues on the attack more so than they were tonight. They don’t want to be going back to St. Louis with the series evened up.
The risk the Blues run of opening up their game is getting into a track meet with the Hawks, something Ken Hitchcock has repeteadly stated he wants to avoid. If the Blackhawks can carry over this momentum and clear pucks when the Blues chip them down low, they will be in good position.
Game 4 will be an even tighter than tonight, but that is something that the Hawks can play into their advantage. Minimize the time the Blues spend in the offensive zone and continue to get pressure on Ryan Miller is the MO for the Hawks right now. As the stakes get higher, the less likely we are to see cheap shots occur and the less likely the Blues are to try and ramp up their physical play. If the Hawks can take home Game 4, St. Louis will have all of the pressure heading back home as they try to avoid another post-season collapse.
Wednesday will prove to be a thriller and it can’t come soon enough.
Tags: Chicago Blackhawks