Observations From Section 321 : It's One For The Dagger

The Blackhawks put themselves one win away from the ultimate prize with a 3-1 Game 5 win over the Bruins.

I've been saying for two days that I expected both goalies to bounce back for a lowing scoring Game 5. That is exactly what we got tonight. Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford both came up huge tonight for their teams. In the end, it was Crawford that was one goal better than Rask for the third time in five games. The Hawks are now one more win away from winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years. Not bad for a team that was declared dead by many outlets just five days ago.

The 1st period played out like most periods have in this series; both teams getting chances in a very even period. The Hawks had a couple of good shifts early with Jonathan Toews getting a good look early, down low and close, but hit the left goal post. The Bruins were able to gain a few chances of some neutral zone turnovers by the Hawks. Late in the first period the Hawks were able to take the lead. Toews was able to withstand a check from Milan Lucic long enough to get the puck to Patrick Kane, who skated behind the net. He got the puck out to Johnny Oduya who fired a slap shot that was slowed down by the stick of Dennis Seindenberg. Kane continued to skate towards the net after his pass the puck came right to him and he slipped it past Tuukka Rask for his second goal in as many games. The physicality after the whistle sure was amped up a bit n the 1st period and would continue to build throughout the game.

The Blackhawks were able to extend their lead to 2-0 at 5:13 of the 2nd period. It was another goal that was created by playing below the goal line. The play started with a nice little give and go pass between Bryan Bickell and Toews. Bickell got his own rebound and went behind the net before getting the puck out front of the net and Patrick Kane was there to put home his second goal of the night. Zdeno Chara was on the ice for the 7th time in the last 8 Blackhawks goals. The Bruins top line was also on the ice for both goals. They struggled mightily against the DDN line the entire first 40 minutes. Late in the period Toews took a hit near the head from Johnny Boychuck that would eventually end Tazer's night. He took three more shifts in the period but did not take a single shift in the 3rd period despite spending the entire 20 minutes on the bench.

As the Bruins took to the ice in the 3rd period, one important piece was missing. Patrice Bergeron, who only took 2 shifts in the 2nd period was nowhere to be found. It would later be announced that he left the United Center in an ambulance. As the play on the ice continued without two of the best two way forwards in the game, the Bruins started to sustain some pressure in the Hawks end. Shorty after Rask made a great save on Brandon Saad the Bruins were able to get one past Crawford. Boston was able to cycle puck around the zone and David Krejci passed the puck from behind the net to Zdeno Chara who fired a slap shot for his 3rd goal of the playoffs. The Bruins would have a few more chances in the 3rd period but the Hawks and Crow stood tall. Dave Bolland would ice the victory with an empty net goal in the final minute of the game. So the series shifts back to Boston for an elimination game.

* Corey Crawford, as I expected, bounced back with another big game. He has been amazing this post season. If the Hawks go on to win the Cup on either Monday or Wednesday Crawford will win the Conn Smythe and he would have flat out earned it. Nothing seems to phase him this year, which is different from last year. When asked about the criticism after Game 4 he replied; "I'm not really listening to it. I have a job to do. Whatever is being said doesn't really affect what I'm going to do on the ice."

* There have been a few moments, this post season, where Joel Quenneville has been accused of being "out coached." This may or may not be true, but in the last two games Claude Julien might be the one on the short end of the stick. Q's game plan has been to get the puck below the goal line and it has been working. The Boston defensemen are a wee bit overrated and Q is getting his team to force them to make plays. When the puck is below the goal line it makes the Bruins turn their heads away from the Hawks forwards. This is when Patrick Kane excels. It only takes a split second for Kaner to get in position to kill you and he did it twice tonight.

* Tonight was a bad night to be a Selke finalist as both Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews left with injuries. Someone better check in on Pavel Datsyuk and make sure he is ok. I really don't know what happened to Bergeron, there was never a big hit on him. If it really is a spleen injury, that is not going to be good. This would be a huge loss for the Bruins. I did see Toews in the hallway after the game. He was laughing and taking pictures and did not look like a guy who was seriously injured. I think being in the morgue is the only way Tazer does not play in a game where he could be potentially handed the Stanley Cup by Gary Bettman.

* Nick Leddy did get more ice time, as Q promised, but not much. He only had 9 shifts for 6:53 of total ice time. Still not sure what the problem is but Michal Rozsival has been fantastic. He is so smart with the puck and rarely is out of position.

* Add Marcus Kruger to the list of unsung heroes with Rozsival. He has had a great post season by doing a lot of things that do not show up on a stat sheet. He stepped up in the absence of the Toews in the 3rd period. Frogger had 12 shifts in the 1st and 3rd periods combined, he finished the game with 23 shifts.

* Has anyone seen Brad Marchand? Remember when he was going to be a difference maker in this series?

* I don't think Johnny Boychuck will get a suspension for his hit on Toews. I don't believe he was intentionally targeting the head but he needs to have better control of his hands. I did see Zdeno Chara take a few liberties with our captain by throwing a couple of elbows to his head. The league can make as many rules and pass out as many suspensions as they want, but it is up to the players themselves to put an end to hits to the head.

Blackhawks Coris Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 25:53 23 18 +5 -3 +6
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 22:15 22 16 +6 -3 +7
Brent Seabrook D 20:59 23 19 +4 -1 +4
Nick Leddy D 4:27 2 8 -6 +2 -7
Patrick Sharp R 15:07 12 13 -1 -5 +1
Marcus Kruger C 11:18 10 13 -3 0 -3
Jonathan Toews C 11:17 15 10 +5 -2 +6
Brandon Saad L 12:21 9 10 -1 +2 -2
Viktor Stalberg L 8:29 9 7 +2 +3 +1
Michal Handzus C 16:04 10 17 -7 -6 -5
Johnny Oduya D 24:02 27 21 +6 -4 +8
Bryan Bickell L 15:48 20 16 +4 -2 +5
Michal Rozsival D 14:24 9 16 -7 -1 -7
Dave Bolland C 13:31 12 7 +5 -2 +6
Andrew Shaw C 12:47 14 8 +6 +2 +5
Michael Frolik R 14:14 12 8 +4 +1 +4
Marian Hossa R 14:33 12 14 -2 -4 -0
Patrick Kane R 18:31 20 20 0 -2 +1

Bruins Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Milan Lucic L 19:01 24 19 +5 +5 +3
Nathan Horton R 16:57 22 16 +6 +5 +4
Tyler Seguin C 13:23 11 18 -7 -2 -6
Daniel Paille L 11:38 9 12 -3 -2 -2
Andrew Ference D 24:12 28 20 +8 +4 +6
Shawn Thornton L 6:46 6 5 +1 0 +1
Chris Kelly C 12:48 10 16 -6 -1 -6
Zdeno Chara D 21:58 16 23 -7 0 -7
Carl Soderberg C 14:16 9 9 0 0 0
Patrice Bergeron C 6:06 6 7 -1 +2 -2
Dennis Seidenberg D 20:58 16 20 -4 +4 -6
David Krejci C 20:12 23 21 +2 +4 +0
Torey Krug D 12:21 7 14 -7 +1 -7
Rich Peverley C 11:39 8 15 -7 -4 -5
Adam Mcquaid D 10:02 4 11 -7 +1 -7
Johnny Boychuk D 23:05 27 19 +8 0 +8
Brad Marchand C 16:10 8 11 -3 +4 -5
Jaromir Jagr R 15:06 7 7 0 +4 -2