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Blackhawks DL - A Chicago Blackhawks blog | Page 25

For Want of a Big Shiny Silver Thing: Blackhawks vs Flyers Stanley Cup Finals Series Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Jesus Christ, we're here. And yet there's still more work to be done.

Despite the fact that Philadelphia finished a 7th seed in a universally acknowledged weaker conference, a case can be made for this statement: the Blackhawks, in their quest for Lord Stanley's ultimate prize, may very well be facing a mirror image of themselves. Let's take a look, shall we?

Goalies:


Michael Leighton will be backstopping the Flyers as far as we know, taking over after Brian Boucher went down in the middle of the postseason due to injury, but don't I shouldn't have to tell you not to let the word "back-up" fool you. Picked up off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes when Ray Emery went down to a season-ending injury, Michael Leighton came into the Flyers' system (again) and helped them power through the middle part of the season. When Leighton went down to injury himself, Brian Boucher took over and <I>he</I> performed well enough to keep Michael Leighton in as a bench-warmer. Then <I>Boucher</I> got injured, but thankfully for Philadelphia, Leighton was ready. He shut out the Montreal Canadiens thrice in the span of 5 games, and should he go down to injury (because it'll just be the Flyers' luck, won't it?), Boucher seems to be waiting in the wings for him.

I don't know of any organization lucky enough to benefit from having two solid back-ups work out for the best when their supposed starter was taken out of the picture, but that's the Flyers for you. I think I've long decided that the adage "hot goaltenders win Cups" is as valid as they can get, but the term "hot" doesn't necessarily mean Roberto Luongo or Evgeni Nabokov. Acquiring elite goaltenders, as they are conventionally defined, isn't a sure path to the Finals. Sometimes all you need is for a regular goaltender to <I>get hot</I> at just the right time-- and that's what Leighton and Boucher seem to be.

Of course, others still will point out that they benefit as much from Philadelphia's defensive system, which we'll discuss next.

Defensemen:

The Flyers signed Chris Pronger early in the season to a long-term deal, which they later realized locked his salary cap hit to their cap even after he retires because the contract kicks in after his 35th birthday, but if the Flyers win their first Cup since 1975 all that could be forgiven and forgotten. Chris Pronger has been everything as advertised for the Flyers this postseason, and maybe even more. After a dismal start to the regular season it seemed Pronger's leadership came in and helped get things together for the men of orange and black, and now he's terrorizing the blueline as if it was his god-given right. Partnered with Carle, who is as sound as you can expect to get when your other guy is Pronger, the top pair will eat up close to half a game's minutes night in and night out.

The anticipated match-up between Pronger and Byfuglien may be a sight to behold, but McClure over at Second City Hockey wonders if that's exactly how the Flyers will utilize Pronger, and I'm inclined to agree with him. He might end up shadowing Patrick Kane, and then we'll see a battle of position and size versus speed and skill that should be one for the ages.

The second pair of Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn explains why Philadelphia is basically running a 4-man blue line. Think of them as the Flyers equivalent of Campbell and Hjalmarsson, respectively. Timonen has just contributed more offensively, especially on the power play, this postseason, and Coburn plays like he has Hammer's body while Hammer plays like he has Coburn's.

Then there's Krajicek and Parent, who Laviolette and Flyers fans, I believe, would rather pretend didn't exist. In deference to their judgement, let's move on.

Forwards:

In the same manner that Blackhawks fans believe the Flyers have yet to face a team as offensively deep as the Hawks, the Blackhawks have also yet to face a team that can roll the 4 lines that the Flyers do. Their strength is down the middle, although Carter's been moved up to play wing on the first line and Claude Giroux at center in the third. Richards, Briere, Giroux, and even Blair Betts on the fourth line are solid foundations for the lines Laviolette plans to roll. Gagne, Richards, and Carter are going to be a handful as the Flyers' top line, but the danger always lies in depth the farther you get in the playoffs.

The Flyers' lethal second line came together out of evolutionary necessity: Briere, Leino, and Hartnell have been productive in ways that kept the Flyers alive while they were waiting for Carter and Gagne to recover from injuries that have sidelined them so far. The Wings gave up on Leino and traded him to the Flyers after a weak start to the season following a promising playoff debut, but on the Flyers' second line he's found something of a groove. Briere has been phenomenal, although barely anyone is aware of it, leading the Flyers in goals scored (9) and second to Richards in points (18). Hartnell provides the muscle in the group though 8 points in 17 games is barely just muscle.

It doesn't quite stop there, either. The third line is made up of Giroux, van Riemsdyk, and Asham, and Giroux has been nothing short of a revelation for the Flyers this postseason. James van Riemsdyk was picked second overall behind Kane and, early in his rookie year, made a decent case for Calder consideration. They can skate with the best of them although I don't believe they're functioning as a checking line the way the Hawks are using their third line, which means that none of the Hawks can take a shift off, and match-ups will definitely be one to watch, at any rate. This could be the battle of offensive depth versus offensive depth that neither team has really had the chance to face in the playoffs yet.

Bold Prediction:

A Cup drought will end in four wins.

As Seen On TV (Or, Why My Ugly Mug Was On NBC)

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

It was the type of thing you see in movies.  Or maybe in the newspaper under the headline "Man Robbed and Beaten Up After Ticket Plot."  It just doesn't happen in real life.  Especially not to me.

I woke up Sunday morning at the wee hour of 11:00 AM.  I peeled my face off the leather couch I fell asleep on at roughly 3 AM the night before while playing Xbox.  I went upstairs for my daily routine of checking my email, Twitter, and Facebook in that order.  I never made it to my Twitter or Facebook pages.

"Have an extra ticket to game 4. Call me, Steve 555-555-5555." So I call him right away. He tells me section 116 on the glass. This kind of thing doesn't happen in real life, just the movies.  I'm still waiting to hear my rich uncle who I never met died or to go on a wacky adventure downtown with my best friend Cameron and beautiful girlfriend Sloane.  Haha just kidding, Cameron is a Wings fan so I'd never hang out with him.

So my thought process was that this could go one of three ways:

  1. Its legit and I go to the best game of my life.
  2. I get beat up and robbed of all $5 that I have.
  3. He never shows up and I go watch the game somewhere near the UC.

Obviously, by now you've figured out that scenario 1 played out and it was awesome.  We sat just to the right of the West goal, which gave us an awesome view. (If you're on the BHDL main page, click the Read More button down towards the right to see all the pictures.)

Clear Your Calendars - SCF Schedule

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

We now know who, what, where, and when the Hawks will be playing for the Stanley Cup.  The Flyers just sealed the 4-2 win to clinch the series over the Habs 4 games to 1.  Here's the schedule (all times Central):

Game 1: Sat. at CHI 7 PM NBC

Game 2: Mon. at CHI 7 PM NBC

Game 3: June 2 at PHI 6:30 PM VERSUS

Game 4: June 4 at PHI 6:30 PM VERSUS

*Game 5: June 6 at CHI 7 PM NBC

*Game 6: June 9 at PHI 7 PM NBC

*Game 7: June 11 at CHI 7 PM NBC

*=if necessary

Break Out The Brooms - Hawks Win Series 4-0

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Holy crap.

Wow.

BLAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Alright now that I got that out of the way, what a game!  I've been going to games for a long time, but I've never been to one that exciting.  I sat on the glass, through a series of events that I'm still waiting to wake up from.  That's for a different post though (and trust me, it'll need a separate post for all the pictures I got).

So pregame was pretty ridiculous.  There was a buzz throughout the stadium like I haven't seen in a long time.  I don't know if it was excitement or nerves about the large investment they all just made in hopes of seeing a sweeping Western Conference clincher.  Probably both.

The Hawks came out slow in the first few minutes (this is my surprised face).  The Sharks were outshooting them 6-1 after the first 15 minutes of the game.  Then the Hawks realized they were in a hockey game.  By the end of the period, shots were 8-7 Hawks.  Logan Couture got the only marker of the period when he continued his attempt to have more playoff goals than regular season goals (final tally: 5 regular season, 3 playoffs).

Skip ahead to 7:30 into the 2nd period. Hawks go to the power play.  Besides the usual awful happenings when the Hawks have an extra guy on the ice that just absolutely perplexes us, Dunc got hit in the yapper with a clearing attempt.  He lost 7 teeth on the play and headed straight to the bench.  So that left Sharp and Toews back to defend a 3 on 2 because what do we need stinkin defensemen for when we're on the powerplay???  Marleau got the goal, since he's the only guy wearing teal who decided to show up for the entire series (AND I CAN HARDLY IMAGINE WHY THAT WOULD BE THE CASE (ca-ching)).

In an effort to cut down the lead while simultaneously making me laugh my ass off, Seabrook scored.  It wasn't even like he scored from the point though.  Dude was both below and inside the dots and wristed it towards Nabby before it trickled in.  I think it either was Nabokov or one of his defensemen who got the final touch on it, which is HILARIOUS because...its Seabrook scoring here people...that just doesn't happen.  It was originally ruled no goal, but the NBC camera guy proved that there is some good about NBC's hockey coverage and told us right away that he saw it cross the line on his little tv monitor.

Bolly tied the game just before the end of the second period.  He picked up the puck down low behind the net and was given all the room in the world to skate out and beat Nabokov on his glove side.  I don't know how you can leave a guy wide open like that. Maybe its because he's so little and easy to play against, right Jumbo Joe? (seriously dude, screw you. Love, little guys everywhere like me and Bolly.)

Of course it wouldn't be a Blackhawks playoff game if Buff didn't do something great.  For one brief moment, the power play solved its identity crisis as Kane played some give and go with Toews before dishing to Buff in front of the net for the redirect.  From then on, it was all Hawks.  The Sharks had some life in them when they were up, and even played well tied.  But it was all over once the fat man sang.  Versteeg put the final nail in the coffin with the empty netter.

Niemi made some key stops throughout the game, but nothing that really deserves a History Will Be Made commercial (but we'll probably get one anyways...).  Again, I feel like I'm beating a dead horse by saying he played to exactly what was expected of the Hawks goalie.  Bend, but don't break.  You don't need to be perfect, just be good.  Just please don't poop the bed for 4 of the next 7.

The Hawks are headed to their first Stanley Cup since I was 2 years old. I thought this day would never come.  This team has disappointed me more times than I can count. "Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!" 4 more wins, boys.

Note: We're starting a partnership with ChiCitySports this week.  They'll be our forum, where you can go and post your thoughts and talk to other fans about the Hawks.  They also have boards for the Bulls, Sox, Cubs, and Bears.  We'll post a link at the bottom of our articles that will take you there and we'll have a link on the front page pretty soon.  You don't need to register to read, but you do to post. It will literally take you 1 minute. I know because I just did it. So click here to check it out.

Remember: Fish are friends, not food. Blackhawks vs Sharks Game 4 Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

How about some more of that road magic today?

With the way playoffs have played out, somehow it's hard to imagine the Broomstick of Terror making an appearance this late. It's a possibility today, of course, and it would be damn sweet if the Hawks could just clinch their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 18 years today, but I'm just saying.

Not that this Sharks team is a pushover of any sort. Far from it, the Sharks were a fortuitous bounce or two (or three or four) from making this into a real series, and Patrick Sharp was right when he said that this series could have just as easily been 3-0 in the Sharks' favor. The men in teal have peppered the Hawks' net as much as they could-- as evidenced by Game 3's CORSI ratings as well-- but few have gone past Niemi.

And that's another thing that's gone in Chicago's favor. Goaltending was the question mark for this team going into the season (and then the playoffs), and while some (yours truly included) have said all the Blackhawks needed was solid, not spectacular, goaltending to go far, you can't deny that Niemi has gone above and beyond the call of duty so far. He's gotten hot at just the right time, and hopefully he stays that way.

After that, what more is there to say? We're up 3-0, the Sharks are facing elimination, and no one here really wants to have to go back to San Jose.

Let's Finn-ish them. It's like a pun!

STRANGLEHOLD - Hawks Take 3-0 Series Lead

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

The Hawks just took a stranglehold on this series, which gives me an excuse to post a Ted Nugent video.  It will take an epically failtacular performance to choke away this series, which I don't see happening at this point by the way this team is playing.

Any ill feelings I had about getting hosed on winning tickets to game 4 due to a technicality are long gone at this point.  Its time to celebrate a solid win.  Big props to Niemi and all the PKers for this win.  The Hawks haven't been this close to a Cup since I was 2 years old and you have no idea how much that excites me.

Leave some love in the comments if you'd like. I'm going out for the night and I'll recap the game with all the usual wit and hilarity you've come to expect tomorrow. Its a great night to be a Hawks fan.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming: Blackhawks vs Sharks Game 3 Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

For a while now, there have been some parallels with the way some series have played out. In the conference quarterfinals, all Eastern Conference series went 3-1 after 4 games; all Western Conference series were 2-2. Seeds 1, 2, 3, and 5 came out of the West, while seeds 4, 6, 7, and 8 came out of the East. For the conference semi-finals, both Western series were 3-1 after 4 games; meanwhile, the East saw both series end in upsets. Seeds 1 & 2 came out of the West, and seeds 7 & 8 came out of the East.

The conference finals seemed to start out with some parallels too-- seeds 2 & 7 came out after 2 games leading the series 2-0, but where I hope the parallels stop is tonight, when the Blackhawks host the San Jose Sharks for game 3 of their series. Philly was playing on the road for game 3, of course, although it seems like that's what Chicago would like to happen today as well-- after practice, they'll be checking into a hotel to try and simulate that "road mentality" that's gotten them a 7-1 record in the playoffs. (Home mentality, on the other hand, has only given them a 3-3 record.) Hey, whatever works.

San Jose, for obvious reasons, will want to come out firing tonight. Dan Boyle, apparently the next Sharks captain, has a couple of fighting words to drop after their loss Tuesday night. Joe Thornton claims it's been easy playing against Dave Bolland's line, and Bolland in particular, because he's big and Dave is small. After the link dump I gave you yesterday, with the VerBolLadd CORSI ratings, I would have been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, but a funny thing happened when you play with numbers...

A few weeks back in Second City Hockey, at the prime of Quenneville's line-juggling, a guy named VerStig wondered whether there was some way he could figure out which Hawks players worked best with other Hawks players. He'd already created the Blackhawks Line Generator to make fun of Q's tendency to switch things up after five seconds of ineffectiveness, but what if there was a way to numerically determine the best lines?

Enter Mutual +/-, a statistic he formulated (with a little bit of wrangling from Python) to determine any given player's +/- rating when another player is on the ice. (The post I linked to is good reading material by itself, by the way. You should check it out.) He pulled out the numbers for the Nashville series, and then again for the Vancouver series with a bonus preview for the San Jose series.

VerStig also wondered about the discrepancy of the VerbolLadd line's poor CORSI ratings despite looking like they were shutting down the Joe Thornton line, so he did what any awesome fan would do, and pulled up the Mutual CORSI numbers for the first two games of the series:

Mutual CORSI through the first two games

The numbers are geared towards evaluating the Hawks, so the +/- CORSI ratings are the Hawks'. It means when Jonathan Toews (first row) is on the ice against Joe Thornton (first column), the +5 listed is Toews' CORSI rating. Thornton's would be -5.

This clears up quite the mystery, as well. With the exception of Dustin Byfuglien, it looks like all of the Hawks are owning San Jose's top line. Dave Bolland's line is, indeed, generating more chances than not against Thornton, though they are somehow getting outchanced by the other lines. Pavelski's line has been strong against all but Toews' line, which is fine because despite not having the last switch privilege for the last two games, Quenneville's been able to match up Toews against Pavelski most of the time. One can assume that the chances the Pavelski line's been generating against the Hawks' 2nd and 3rd lines occur at the tail-end of their shifts.

This also sheds some light on the blue-liners matched up against certain forward lines. Boyle and Murray have had success against Toews' and Bolland's line, but Sharp's line seems to know how to deal with them. Campbell and Hjalmarsson have been the most consistent pair out against San Jose, and should be out against Pavelski's line. The Sharks' third line of Malhotra, Couture, and Mitchell have also played well against the Blackhawks, but I don't believe McLellan has played them all that much. He's hinted at potentially mixing up the lines for tonight, although the Sharks lines stayed the same at yesterday's practice, so those changes remain to be seen.

As for the Blackhawks? Quenneville just needs to keep doing what he's doing-- that is, matching up the best Hawks lines against the Sharks. Hopefully the Blackhawks treat this as a road game, and play the way they've played on the road. If I have to boo Brian Campbell to make him feel like this is the Shark Tank, I'm all for that too. (Look at his CORSI against the Pavelski line!)

T-minus 8.5 hours before we find out if the Hawks will choose to keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Let's hope they do.

Your Off-Day Reading Assignments

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

There isn't much to write about today, so I thought I'd bring out some goodies from other places on the internet. Consider it your reading assignment before tomorrow's game.

Player Spotlights:

  • From BCHL to Olympic champion: the rise of Duncan Keith by Justin Bourne, Puck Daddy
    This piece has little to do with the series but is a pretty cool look at what Duncan Keith was like before he came to Chicago from the perspective of a guy who played against him then.

  • Big Bad Bolland by Ed Duhatschek, Globe and Mail
    After somehow drawing a viciously stupid slashing penalty from Joe Thornton, Dave Bolland's been getting a lot of love from the media. I don't blame them--he drew some penalties against a normally-aloof Daniel Sedin during the Vancouver series too, and many are now pointing to his role as a checking line center as a contributor to the Hawks' success in shutting down the opponents' top lines. This is an example of one such article.

  • Jonathan Toews Sets Tone for Hawks by Brian Hamilton, Chicago Tribune
    Then there's Captain Serious, Conn Smythe candidate assuming without conceding everything works out for the best in Chicago. Can we really say we're surprised to see him rise to the top this time around? The man is a beast and the most complete player in the team.
Series Evaluations After Two Games:
  • Impressive by Al Cimaglia, Hockey Independent
    I'll admit there's potential bias in this piece, but this is pretty much what the Chicago media's saying after game 2.

  • San Jose Sharks Simply aren't as Good as Chicago Blackhawks by Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News
    I don't have the pulse on what San Jose is saying as a whole, meanwhile, but this sounds like something Chicago media would say if the tables were turned. Granted, the series has been nothing short of its hype. Both teams are playing pretty well and trading chances--you can't fault one or the other for not bringing their "A" game, because they are, no doubt about it. If--and that's still a big if--the Sharks get eliminated in this round, I honestly don't see how anybody could still tack on the "choker" label to their team.

  • Frustrations beginning to affect Thornton's game by Justine Bourne, Puck Daddy
    Yeah, I'm linking Bourne articles twice. I think he has a very interesting perspective, though, because he was a hockey player before he was a hockey writer.
And Some Numbers:
  • Goaltending Streaks for Final Four Teams by The Contrarian Goaltender, Brodeur is a Fraud
    Just a view on numbers, percentages, and how some streaks are just about timing.

  • Scoring Chances for the Hawks and Sharks: Game 1 and Game 2 by Derek Zona, Copper and Blue
    For a while now, Derek's been keeping track of scoring chances this playoffs. I think he's been following the Sharks' series for the most part. Anyway, he has a brief primer on what scoring chances are and how they're calculated, and they're a bit of an eye-opener. The Sharks do seem to be outchancing the Blackhawks, but Niemi's been solid and the Hawks have been lucky in that more of their chances have gone in. Or Nabokov's not as on as he was earlier, and the Sharks just aren't getting anything in. This was, at least, the crux of Thornton's statement after game 2, and it has some merit.

  • CORSI numbers for the Hawks and Sharks: Game 1 and Game 2 at Time on Ice
    This corroborates the scoring chances stats, a bit. For those unfamiliar with the stat, CORSI is essentially the +/- rating, but instead of goals it adds up all of a team's shots for, missed shots, and attempts blocked minus the opponent's shots for, missed shots, and attempts blocked in even strength. Because goals are sometimes just a matter of high shooting percentages or low save percentages, CORSI is used to indicate, in general, who had more control of the puck during the game. This doesn't always coincide with the game's winner, but in general it is a better indicator of a team's performance.
Takeaways:
  • The Hawks have been fairly lucky. I'm not saying they're Montreal Canadiens-lucky, but they've definitely benefited from some good fortune. This luck can change, but the Hawks still have room to improve. They've been able to play strong puck possession games against the Sharks during the regular season (November 15, November 25, and December 22) and there's no reason to believe they can't do it again, especially since now they probably have the mental advantage as well.
  • I can see how the Sharks can get frustrated with the outcome of the series thus far--what more can you do when you're doing most things right but just aren't getting the puck to the net? They're either going to get out of the gate guns a-blazin' and firing on all cylinders, but they could just as easily deflate or get desperate should the Hawks draw first blood or (possibly worse) withstand their initial ten-minute barrage.
  • At the end of the day, the Hawks are up 2-0 and they have a good chance to still elevate their game. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'm also not about to get ahead of myself. It seems things have sort of fallen into place for the first two games, and hopefully the Hawks don't let that go to waste.

Your Super Late Game 2 Recap

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Sorry for this post being so delayed.  I blame work, graduation ceremony, and formspring.  I can't help it if the people are so damn inquisitive.  Moving on...

Going into this game, my thinking went along the lines of a loss wouldn't be a big deal since the Hawks won the first game in the Tank.  Heading home 1-1 would be absolutely acceptable.  A win would have been nice, but I expected the Sharks to come out and protect their turf.  Boy was I wrong.

We'll just jump to the bullet point style stuff since you've probably read a recap or 8 by now:

  • Bolland did a great job again of getting under the skin of the Sharks.  Joe Thornton took a penalty that Charles Barkley would have described as "turrible, turrible, turrible, ya knucklehead."  I don't know what it is about the Hawks that makes other teams get so agitated during the playoffs, but Bolly has been shutting down the Sharks thus far.  Some reporters have been calling him the best agitator in the league since he's been so effective without taking penalties.
  • Nemo just kept swimming.  He made some huge stops again.  Again, he has been exactly what we said the Hawks goalie needs to be for them to succeed.  Just keep it close and let the skaters win the game for you.  Nemo stopped a lot of tough shots.  He looks really good when he comes out and challenges the shooter and cuts down the angle.  An agressive Niemi is a great Niemi.  I'm still trying to figure out how he makes some of those stops when he has about 7 players in his face battling for a puck and he just seems to swipe it with his glove.
  • It will be interesting to see what Coach Q does matchup wise when he gets last change.  The Hawks have had success when the Toews line was matched up against the Pavelski line, but QStache might change that up to get a more favorable matchup defensively.  I hope he doesn't change anything, but that's kinda like hoping for the Sun to not go down...its inevitable with that man.
Sorry to cut this short, but work calls. We'll talk again later and look at what the Hawks need to do to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series tomorrow night.  If you have any thoughts of your own on who played well (or poorly) yesterday, leave em in the comments.

How Long til the Finding Nemo Puns? Blackhawks at Sharks Game 2 Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

In less than 9 hours, the Hawks will skate out at HP Pavilion for game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sharks, just 2 days after taking the first game 2-1.

There were many good things to take away from the Hawks' game against the Sharks last Sunday, but truthfully, this series is going to come down to execution. How well the defense holds up against a barrage of shots from the Sharks. How well the Hawks forwards cycle the puck down low. How strong the penalty kill stays. How tall Niemi stands.

The good news is that the pressure is on the Sharks here. Down 1-0, they'll want to win tonight so they don't come into the United Center in a 2-0 hole. (Though with the Hawks' 3-3 record in their home barn, maybe that's not such a problem.) But that can also be taken another way-- leading the series 1-0 gives the Blackhawks the chance to truly take a lead before they head back to the Windy City.

Question is, of course, whether or not the Blackhawks will ease up this time around, knowing they've got the series lead. Having good starts, at this point, is beginning to sound like a broken record, as is playing 60 minutes, but these, among others, are the cliches that wins are made of.

Speaking of cliches, how about creating more traffic in front of the net? Judging from the number of San Jose shots that seemed to congregate much closer around Niemi's net than the Hawks shots around Nabokov's, the men of four feathers need to both force the Sharks out of dangerous scoring areas as well as crash Nabokov's crease as they did Luongo's. Granted, part of the reason for this disparity of shot locations could be based off the number of San Jose power plays (5) compared to Chicago's chances with the man advantage (0), but Nabokov and Niemi were both on top of their game last Sunday. There aren't many teams that can win scoring only 2 goals, so the Hawks would do well to try and find more holes in Nabokov's game. As some have pointed out in the past, his smaller frame could lead to more frustration--and goals--when big bodies are parked in front of it.

The speed and tempo between the two teams is incredible to watch, and the Hawks have an edge here that they can hopefully use to draw more penalties, or at least avoid any more. One of the media guys covering the series reported that the Sharks were working specifically on their power play during Monday's practice. Here's to hoping we don't get to see too much of that tonight.

Get your defibrillators ready. We're on for another crazy ride.

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