Observations From Section 321 : Seab-Sixed

The Blackhawks even up the Stanley Cup Final with a wild 6-5 OT win in Game 4.

The Blackhawks got everything they needed in order to get the split in Boston they were desperately seeking. They got a short handed goal, a power play goal, goals from their stars, traffic in front of the net and were much improved at the dot. The only thing missing was the good goaltending performance, but it didn't matter. In the end our goalie was one goal better than theirs. Now the Stanley Cup Final is down to a best 2 out of 3 series and two of those games at the United Center. Last night reminded me Game 1 of the 2010 Final, when the Hawks beat the Flyers by the same score of 6-5. That was followed up by a much tighter game and a 2-1 Hawks win (thank you Ben Eager). I expect Saturday night's Game 5 to be the same type of game.

The Blackhawks looked much better to start the game, including winning the opening faceoff, something that was a rarity in Game 3. The Hawks were able to establish some early pressure including getting the puck low. The Blackhawks were able to out shoot the Bruins 7 to 1 to start the game. The Bruins power play was responsible for both goals in the opening period, one for each team. Brandon Saad was able to take advantage of a Tyler Seguin turnover and get a 2 on 1 going the other direction. Saad was able to pass the puck across to Michal Handzus for his 3rd playoff goal at 6:48. Let it be noted that Handzus was able to skate away from Patrice Bergeron, from a stand still, in order to score the goal. But Saad giveth and Saad taketh away. While the Bruins were on another power play Saad tried to clear the puck from the corner but Andrew Ference kept it in the zone. Saad recovered to get to Ference's centering attempt but fell down which left Rich Peverly wide open. He was able to snap the puck off and caught Corey Crawford a bit off guard, who might have been anticipating a pass. Peverly's 2nd goal of the playoffs tied the game at 14:43. The Hawks got 7 of the first 8 shots on goal but the Bruins got 8 of the last 13. The biggest improvement from Game 3 was at the faceoff dot. The Hawks won 13 of 20 1st period draws.

The 2nd period is where Game 4 took a turn towards the absurd! 5 goals were scored in the middle frame, which was the same amount of goals scored in Games 2 and 3 combined. Daydream Nation got the Hawks a two goal cushion with Jonathan Toews scoring at 6:33 and Patrick Kane following up with a goal of his own at 8:41. Both goals were started by Michal Rozsival shots from the point with traffic in front. Toews deflected the puck past Tuukka Rask for his goal, and Kane had a wide open net after a mad scramble in front. But this was just the beginning. Milan Lucic scored his 3rd goal of the series at 14:43 to cut the Hawks lead in half. The Blackhawks would answer with another goal just 49 seconds later. Michal Frolik and Marcus Kruger lead a 2 on 1 where Rask made a great toe save on the initial shot from Kruger. But without a single Boston defenseman in sight, Frogger had plenty of time to put the rebound back in. The Bruins would score a fluky power play goal at 17:33 to cut the lead to 4-3. Zdeno Chara's slat shot went high of the glass behind Crow, it took a weird bounce of the top of the net and landed right in front of the crease. Patrice Bergeron was the first to get to the loose puck and tapped it home for his 8th goal of the playoffs.

Bergeron would tie the game just 2:05 into the 3rd period with a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. The goal was created by Jaromir Jagr out working Johnny Oduya for the puck in the corner. At 11:19 the Blackhawks did something that was thought to be impossible; they scored a power play goal. After some good puck movement, from top to bottom and side to side. Patrick Sharp was able to put in a Marian Hossa rebound for his 10th goal of the post season. The lead would only last 55 seconds as Johnny Boychuk's bomb of slap shot whizzed by the glove of Corey Crawford.

So this series would find itself in overtime yet again. Nothing new for these two teams. Brent Seabrook's overtime magic would make another glorious appearance at 9:51 of extra time. Seabrook was able to skate away from Jagr to give himself some space to get off a slap shot. Jonathan Toews was paying the price in front of the net and delivered a screen that helped the puck past Tukka Rask. Now the series moves back home to the United Center on Saturday night where the Hawks will be greeted by a very raucous home crowd.

* Did you know that Corey Crawford's weakness is his glove side? Crow had his worst game of the playoffs last night, but lucky for him Rask was one goal worse. It was nice to see the Blackhawks bail out Corey after he has saved their collective asses many times this season. I'm not worried about Crow since he has bounced back from the few clunkers he has had this year. If you want to help with his weak glove side, stop letting the Bruins get so many uncontested shots from prime scoring areas. Too many goals are coming from between the circles with space and time. Corey Crawford is the biggest reason the Blackhawks are two wins away from the Stanley Cup. Even with the 5 goals from last night his GAA is still an amazing 1.86. He won the game in the final 45 seconds of the 2nd period.

* Tuukka Rask looks rather pedestrian when you pepper him with shots and get traffic in front of him. In the Game 4 preview, I said the Hawks needed to get at least 30 shots on goal and they finished with 47. Rask doesn't look super human when the Bruins defensemen aren't blocking shots left and right either. Boston only blocked 11 shots last night, by far their lowest total of the series. The Bruins have scored a few goals by just throwing the puck at the net and seeing what happens. It was refreshing to see the Hawks take the approach last night as well.

* Coach Q always has to have someone in his doghouse and now it appears it's Nick Leddy's turn. I have no idea why Leddy only got 4 shifts last night. Down 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, on the road, is not the time to be sending a message to anyone and play the entire game with just 5 defensemen. If anyone needed to be stapled to the bench it was Duncan Keith. He was constantly making bad decisions with the puck, especially on the power play, and had a major case of the "yips." When Q was asked about Leddy all he replied with was "He's fine." Of course there was no follow up. If he isn't hurt I see no reason why he should have been benched.

* Michal Rozsival was great last night. As noted earlier, he had assists on both the Toews and Kane goals and was all over the ice. A couple of shifts before the Toews goal, Rozy made three separate plays to keep the puck in the offensive zone. There were times where it seemed he never left the ice.

* I think it's safe to say that Zdeno Chara's best years are behind him. The Hawks made chumps out of Z and his partner Dennis Seidenberg all night long. Chara was on the ice for 5 of the 6 goals against the Bruins last night. He was victimized on both 2 on 1 goals the Hawks scored. He also failed to clear Toews out from in front of the net on the game winning goal.

* Not sure what took Q so long to put DDN back together. I don't have a problem with Kane and Toews being separated to start the series. I get that each series brings different match ups. What I have a problem is why he waited until Game 4 to put them back together. In my opinion the move should have been made in the 3rd period of Game 2 when the Hawks offense went stagnate.

* Patrick Sharp was in beast mode last night. Besides scoring on the power play, he lead the team with 8 shots, he had 4 hits and 2 blocked shots. It was one of those nights where the puck just kept finding his stick. Getting a productive Sharp back for the playoffs has been another huge reason the Hawks are in the position they are in.

* The Hawks showed how important playing with a lead is for them. Once they grabbed a two goal lead the Bruins stopped playing their defensive game and the ice opened up for the Hawks. They forced Boston to play their style of game, not the other way around. The Hawks were able to get that lead by getting the puck low and playing more from below the goal line. For the first time this series, you saw a team that was willing to get the dirty areas and pay the price to score goals. The blue print has been laid down and it is not a secret on how to beat this Bruins team. Now it is just up to the Hawks to execute like they did in Game 4.

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 28:00 31 20 +11 +5 +9
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 22:14 15 21 -6 +2 -7
Brent Seabrook D 22:03 19 12 +7 +5 +5
Nick Leddy D 2:37 1 0 +1 +1 +1
Patrick Sharp R 15:50 15 11 +4 +6 +2
Marcus Kruger C 12:37 13 13 0 -2 +1
Jonathan Toews C 20:36 20 15 +5 +5 +3
Brandon Saad L 11:46 12 12 0 -1 +0
Viktor Stalberg L 10:13 9 5 +4 +1 +4
Michal Handzus C 15:49 17 11 +6 +4 +4
Johnny Oduya D 23:24 27 24 +3 0 +3
Bryan Bickell L 18:12 20 12 +8 +6 +6
Michal Rozsival D 23:17 31 21 +10 +4 +8
Dave Bolland C 10:52 14 13 +1 -1 +1
Andrew Shaw C 11:05 9 8 +1 0 +1
Michael Frolik R 11:45 11 13 -2 -2 -1
Marian Hossa R 16:20 19 10 +9 +6 +7
Patrick Kane R 21:45 22 17 +5 +5 +3

Bruins Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Kaspars Daugavins L 5:57 3 4 -1 -1 -1
Milan Lucic L 19:46 14 20 -6 -5 -4
Nathan Horton R 14:49 13 16 -3 +1 -3
Tyler Seguin C 13:15 14 15 -1 +1 -1
Daniel Paille L 13:31 12 16 -4 0 -4
Andrew Ference D 24:12 16 33 -17 -7 -14
Shawn Thornton L 5:54 3 4 -1 -1 -1
Chris Kelly C 17:17 13 20 -7 -4 -5
Zdeno Chara D 22:55 17 22 -5 -2 -4
Patrice Bergeron C 20:46 19 17 +2 -4 +4
Dennis Seidenberg D 24:42 21 24 -3 -2 -2
David Krejci C 19:53 14 21 -7 -5 -5
Torey Krug D 11:11 14 7 +7 0 +7
Rich Peverley C 11:09 11 13 -2 -6 +0
Adam Mcquaid D 15:37 12 11 +1 0 +1
Johnny Boychuk D 21:43 16 27 -11 -7 -8
Brad Marchand C 18:09 13 19 -6 -2 -5
Jaromir Jagr R 17:39 13 16 -3 0 -3