Desperate Blackhawks playing for playoff lives
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) stands on the bench behind teammates Johnny Oduya (27),Michal Rozsival (32) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) during the final seconds of Game 4 of their NHL Western Conference semifinals hockey playoff game against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Michigan May 23, 2013. (REUTERS)
The Chicago Blackhawks are on their last lives.
But if they’re going down in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings, they’re going down with their best players together.
On Saturday, the Blackhawks are expected to put Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on their top line in an effort to avoid elimination.
“A couple of years ago, we played together a lot and we were really hot at one time, myself, Sharp and Toews, scoring a lot of goals,” said Kane following the Blackhawks morning skate. “You don’t want to think about that, you want to think about getting chances and creating things. Hopefully I’ll be a fun game tonight.”
Goals have dried up in the series for the Blackhawks, scoring just two in three consecutive losses to the Red Wings, which has put them in a 3-1 hole.
They were shutout for the first time this season Thursday night in Detroit as Jimmy Howard turned away 28 shots in a 2-0 victory.
By putting three of the offensive players together, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville is hoping to jumpstart his offence.
“They’ve played together in the past and they’ve played together in pieces here and there this year,” Quenneville said. “I think they like playing together, and we’ll see what happens tonight.”
The trio have been spread out through the lineup this season in order to provide a more balanced attack.
It had worked out well all seasons and the Blackhawks went on to capture the Presidents’ Trophy.
But with all of them struggling against the Red Wings, the Blackhawks are putting all their eggs in one basket.
“I think for us, we played a lot together at first, in my first couple of years in the league and we developed some chemistry,” said Kane. “It was pretty good, we had a lot of offensive chances. I think we just have to remember how to play with each other, we haven’t done it in a while and hopefully we can get a good couple of shifts and get that chemistry back right away.”
Kane doesn’t believe having the three play together in Game 5 will take away from the rest of the lineup which has also struggled offensively.
“I think there’s so much depth on the team, you really don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “I still like the lineup up and down for sure, we still have a lot of players that can do some things.”
Conversely, the Red Wings are ready for the new look the Blackhawks will throw at them. They know the Blackhawks will be a desperate club trying to keep their season alive.
“You just try to compete with them, play as hard as you can on them, that’s all we’ve been doing,” said Red Wings winger Daniel Cleary. “I think Kane is one of the most talented players in the world and Jonathan has such work ethic and determination, then you have Sharp who’s a great shooter, he’s a smart guy. That’s a talented line, you’re looking at three all-stars on a line.
“You have to play hard, try to match their skating, match their intensity, have good body positioning on them, take away their speed and you have a chance.”
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