One down….

The Blackhawks pulled off a big win last night against the Red Wings and are still alive in the series. The focus now shifts to Monday night. Last night the team showed up to play. The game started off a little bit shaky, passes weren’t quite connecting and they were still struggling to get the puck into the offensive zone without doing a dump and chase, but early in the second period it was like some sort of cosmic shift had occurred. Suddenly there was a familiar jolt to the game, there was speed, communication and trust! You know things are going well when passes are connecting and players don’t even have to move their stick to receive it. The guys were able to anticipate where their teammate was going to be and get the puck to that spot. Then when Toews finally scored on the power play and put the Hawks up 3-1, we began to see the team we have been missing since the start of this series.

Bryan Bickell started everything off in the first period on a second chance opportunity with a practically wide open net. Good things happen when you position yourself in front of the net, something the Blackhawks seem to be slowly improving upon. Shaw, again in front of the net, had a perfect redirect on the power play to put the Hawks back up by one in the second. After a big keep by Keith at the blue line, Toews added to the lead with another power play opportunity and he banks a shot right off of Howard’s helmet. That entire possession unfolded beautifully. It was Keith to Hossa with a strong pass to Toews who bounced the puck from his skate to his stick and hesitates only a second to bank his shot off Howard and into the net. I could have watched that replay 20 times and it never would have gotten old. It’s like he was aiming for Howard with a strong wrist shot as if to say, ‘I want you to remember this one.’ Then Shaw scores the dagger on a wrap around in the third to secure the Blackhawks another chance on Monday night.

So now it’s time to mentally and physically prepare for Monday. The Hawks have a rediscovered confidence they need to carry with them to Detroit. It’s not going to be an easy win. Chicago will have to battle in this one, hard. They have to continue connecting with passes and control the tempo of the game because if they allow Detroit to disrupt their flow too much, then it will be like watching a replay of games 3 and 4 all over again. However, if the Hawks relax, stay focused, and Crawford continues to shine the way he did last night, they will come out with a win and stay alive for one final contest versus one of their greatest rivals. Without looking too far into the future, could you just imagine what a game 7 would look like?

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