Tonight is the night that all of us Blackhawks fans have been waiting for since the end of the summer of 2010. Tonight, the Blackhawks could win their 5th Stanley Cup in franchise history with a win against the Bruins in Boston. Winning the fourth game of a playoff series, let a lone the Stanley Cup Final, is always the toughest win to get. For some players, it is hard to stay focused on going out and playing the game while knowing that they could win the Cup with a victory. For others, knowing that they’re just one win away provides even more motivation to go out and play with every ounce of energy and focus that they have. This is the type of player that I believe the Blackhawks are made up of.
A big deal is being made of the theory that the Blackhawks might be distracted by what they could potentially accomplish tonight. I’m not buying into that. While only 8 of the current Blackhawks have won the Cup, this is a group of players that won’t lose their focus. When you are on a team led by players such as Toews, Keith, Sharp, Seabrook, Hossa, and so on, it is hard to lose focus on the task at hand. The leadership on the Blackhawks is incredible, and it is a huge reason as to why this team has been so successful this season. The guys who have been in this situation just so happen to be great role models to the younger, less experienced players on the Hawks. For that reason, I am expecting to see the Blackhawks more focused than they have been all season tonight.
As well as the Blackhawks have played and as much effort as they have given over the course of this postseason and these last 2 games, I am confident that tonight will be their best effort yet. They know the Bruins are going to give their own best possible effort to avoid elimination, so they will have to match Boston and probably play with even more effort than the Bruins.
Jonathan Toews said today that he will for sure be playing tonight, which is a very good thing for the Blackhawks for obvious reasons. Patrice Bergeron, however, is still not quite sure whether or not he’ll be playing tonight. Claude Julien said after the Bruins’ morning skate today (Bergeron did not participate) that Bergeron will take part in the warmups tonight, and he hopes that Bergeron will play. So while it sounds like both players will be on the ice tonight, the status of Patrice Bergeron is a bit more up in the air.
So how do the Blackhawks finish off the Bruins tonight? Well, they need to continue doing what they’ve done over the last 2 games. In Games 4 and 5, the Blackhawks really used their speed to their advantage and were able to create a lot of offensive chances by doing so. The Bruins’ biggest weakness in 5-on-5 play is defending fast teams like the Blackhawks. If the Hawks can come out of the gates and dictate the way this game will be played, they should win. If they sit back and let Boston play their own game, then the Bruins will most likely win. In the end, it all comes down to which side wants it more and brings the best effort.
While guys like Kane and Toews have really stepped up this series, I think that tonight may come down to which ever team gets more production from their bottom lines. The Blackhawks are the deeper team and over the course of this series, they have gotten the better production from their depth players. I see no reason as to why this shouldn’t be the case again tonight, and it could prove to be the difference. Guys like Saad, Shaw, Bolland, Frolik, Stalberg, and Kruger all need to be at the top of their game tonight and continue providing offense for the Blackhawks.
This is going to be the toughest game of the year for the Blackhawks, and they know it. They are going to have to come out as the more desperate team, and they are going to need to play with 110% effort. The Bruins are not going to go away easily. They will fight until the final horn blows, win or lose.
Like I already said, I am very confident in the Blackhawks and I think they will win tonight. They have that cold-blooded, killer instinct in them that all the great teams in history have had. When your captain is Jonathan Toews and you are one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup, you are going to be prepared and you are going to do everything you can to win that game. That’s just the type of mentality that Toews instills in his teammates. He is the ultimate competitor, and tonight, I’d expect the Blackhawks to be the ultimate competitors.