Is this game more important that Game 5? Probably not. But no one wants to see this series go to 7 games. We want the Hawks to end this tonight. Pittsburgh won a Game 6 on the road in Philly this weekend - The Hawks are going to need to do the same tonight. Hopefully without having to dig out of a 0-3 hole.
Just like every game in this series (except maybe the last one), it's not going to be easy. Read most of the media reports and they won't hesitate to mention that plenty of the Flames have been in elimination games before while few of the Hawks have ever had the chance to end a team's season. How much stock should you really put into that? Hell if I know.
The Hawks know that the Flames are going to come at them with absolutely everything they've got. The real question is though, is that going to be enough? We've pointed out over and over in this series that the Flames are a beat up team on the wrong side of all the injuries. With players like Bourque, Langkow, Sarich and others all playing at far less than 100% added on to the fact that Phaneuf is out tonight it certainly isn't going to be easy for them to deal with the Hawks.
What else can the Flames throw at the Hawks in their depleated state that they haven't seen already? The only thing that still scares me as a Hawk fan is Iginla. We've said all year that he scares the shit out of us. Luckily the Hawks have found a way to contain him for the most part. But he's still shown flashes of the monster we know he is. I can't imagine he's going down without trying to push it up to an unseen level.
What the Hawks have to counter Iginla is our own playoff monters - Toews. 6 points has him tied for 4th overall among players in the Playoffs. He's averaging 16:05 TOI which puts him just out of the top-10 for forwards. He's winning 61.8% of his faceoffs. He's leading the Hawks and is 6th overall for +/- and his corsi rating for the team is only beat by Barker and Kane. He had an off night in Game 4 but other than that he's been just what you want to see out of him in his first Stanley Cup Playoff series.
The shell that is Kiprusoff may have reached a breaking point in Game 5 after being pulled. I can't find video of it but he certainly wasn't happy after getting yanked. I'd imagine with the pressure put on him he's ready to break anyway and that may put him over the edge. Hell - or it might give him Khabby like focus and he plays great.
No one knows exactly what will happen but the Hawks will ultimately decide who wins this game. If they play at or even just close to how they played Saturday the Flames cannot beat them - it's that simple. If they let the crowd/pressure get to them though then we could see a Game 7.
As I mentioned earlier - some people asked if we're doing another SCH Road Watch for tonight's game. And the answer is.. not really. Some of us will be at the Huttenbar like we were for Game 4. If the weather is lousy I'll probably be at The Whirlaway like we were for Game 3, if it's not, then I might head up to Huttenbar too. Both bars should be showing the game so you can't go wrong.
Other Random Info:
- Fifth Feather has a great piece up looking at the Hawks shot blocking in this series. Very good read for tonight's game.
- Kent over at Matchsticks and Gasoline seems about ready to throw in the towel - but hasn't given up yet.
- Just to pile on our old friend Imren again - his headline yesterday "Winning in Calgary Would be Big for the Hawks" - No shit?
- Just for the record - Game 5's Anthem was louder than Game 1.
Lets Go Hawks