By Doug Halberstadt
As I write this, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings are tied at one game apiece in their best-of-seven series in the Western Conference Semifinals (Monday, May 20, game results unavailable at press time).
Detroit fans have to feel good about coming out of the United Center with a split. The Red Wings took a beating in the first game, losing 4-1. In game two, Detroit managed to turn things around and handed Chicago a shellacking. The score was the same as in game one (4-1), but the winner and loser were reversed. Detroit secured home ice advantage for the remaining five games, and handed Chicago their first lost on home ice in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The two teams will face one another again tomorrow night (Thursday, May 23) in game No. 4. It’s going to be a critical contest for the team that dropped game three on Monday night. Neither team wants to be in the position of having to come back from a 3-1 deficit to try to win the series. In my opinion, tomorrow night’s game could be the pivotal game in the series.
Chicago plays best when they win the battle of puck possession. Following their loss in game two, Chicago forward Patrick Kane summed it up. “They controlled the puck a lot and we didn’t,” Kane said. “They kind of used our own game against us, playing puck possession, keeping it in [our end], and we were chasing it all game.”
The rivalry between these two teams has always been a physical one, and this series is no different.
“They were tougher on the puck, and there was a lot of hooking and holding,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews after game two. “You couldn’t really go out there and skate with the puck. We’ve just got to be scrappier. We’ve got to find a way to get through that stuff and find our way to the net.”
The opening puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., and will be broadcast on NBCSN, channel 459 on local Comcast cable.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the May 22-28, 2013, issue