Stanley Cup Final vs. Tampa Bay: Game 5

 It’s hard to believe that no matter what, I’ll be shaving in a few days. I’ve considered letting it grow through the rest of the summer since I’ve kinda grown attached to this full, lustrous man-mane. I like the look, but I don’t like the feel on those sweaty summer days. So only a few more days to go. 

Two days of rest had to be key for the Blackhawks. Yes, they won Game 4 and tied up this series. But they looked exhausted. Maybe it was the pressure put on by the Lightning at the end of the game, but the Hawks looked more relieved that they didn’t give up the tying goal more than anything else (that last shot was deflected and didn’t miss by much). They’ve said all the right things and even have the end in sight, so whatever they have left, it’s time to start using it. 

Another thing that came out of Game 4 was the frustration being felt on both sides. Tampa Bay felt like they’ve been playing as well as they could, controlling the pace at times, and coming up with some good scoring chances. Yet, the series is still tied. The Blackhawks seem to be admitting that they didn’t think the Lightning would be as good at checking and playing tight defense as they have been. The Hawks don’t feel like they have really put together a complete effort in this series. Hopefully, now that the Lightning have the Hawks’ full attention, we’ll start to see the Hawks figure out how defend against the speed and size (more the length of their reach, especially in the neutral zone) of the Lightning and get something going for some of the stars of the team who have been absent so far. 

I don’t expect Patricks Kane and Sharp to go this whole series without scoring. Q had the line blender set on “purĂ©e” to begin Game 4, which may have led to the low offensive output in the 1st period (stop trying to make Shaw at center a thing, please). By the end of the game, Q had Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and Kane with Brandon Saad and Brad Richards. More of this please Q. Once he made these changes, Sharp looked dangerous and Saad potted the game winner. 

The option is also there for Q to double shift Kane with Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen. Anything Q has to do to not only get more offense, but get Teuvo some more ice time as well. He didn’t play much in Game 4, likely due to the line blending, so it would be nice to see one of the Hawks’ best offensive players out on the ice some more in a series where offensive chances have been at a premium. 

This is the part of this post where we all come up with something nice to say about Corey Crawford. I’ll wait until you’re done… Without Crow, this series is definitely not tied. He’s given up 2-3 goals that may have been softies, but he’s come through when they needed him during their victories in Games 1 and 4. The Blackhawks played great defense in those two games as well. If the Hawks can continue to play defense at that level and get the solid work from Crawford, things should start to tilt towards the Hawks’ favor. 

One of the bigger challenges I’ll face today (besides mowing a lawn after three straight days of rain) will be being mentally present around people. I’ve read just about all there is to read and watched just about all of the coverage available on this Stanley Cup Final. No one seems to have the answers on how it will turn out. So if you see me staring off into space today, I’m just trying to bargain with myself that the Blackhawks will come through. There’s no reason for me not to. 

We’ve seen the Hawks overcome these kinds of challenges before. It’s time to reactivate that blind, drunken belief that they will do it again. No reason to hold back now. Let’s make the magic happen tonight. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

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