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Sunday, December 5

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« Sky Best Diminished Fever in Final Preseason Game 2-Point Diversion: 'Hawks Vanquish Vancouver »

Blackhawks Tue May 11 2010

Back to basics

For all the little things the Blackhawks did well in Game 4 (convert on powerplays, crash the net, let Jonathon Toews dominate the game), those same things are what they seemed to forget upon returning to Chicago for Game 5 (inability to put two passes together, looking for the perfect setup). Naturally, after Toews hoisted the team on his shoulders with 5 points and a hat trick in the 7-4 win in Game 4, the Canucks grabbed an early lead and never looked back in Game 5 to make the series 3-2 and send the series back to Vancouver for tonight's Game 6 (8:30 p.m. on Vs. and WGN Radio 720).

Despite the Game 5 loss, the Hawks still can control the series. The team has already taken two games in Vancouver in convincing fashion, and has arguably been the better road team all series long (and in fact, all postseason as their 4-1 road record attests). As confident as Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo looked in Game 5, he was equally as rattled in Games 3 and 4, and the Vancouver crowd figures to be loud and on pins and needles with their team still facing elimination. If the Hawks can grab an early lead, that pressure figures to mount all the more for the home team, making the first goal a huge key.

Yet again, special teams figure to be a major factor. After getting the Canucks off their games and into the box in the two road games, it was the Hawks taking the senseless penalties in Game 5 that affected their ability to get rolling. While momentum game to game has been nonexistant, once the tone within each game has been set, it's been tough to turn the tide. And with Canucks defenseman Sami Salo a gametime decision after taking a shot to the groin in Game 5, the Canucks blue line could be even more vulnerable to battling the power play if the Hawks can draw the penalties.

The Hawks showed how to win in Vancouver by getting shots on net and crashing hard for rebounds, drawing penalties, and staying aware in their defensive zone. The gameplan was successful before, and it easily can be again if they keep it simple.

Win, and a conference final matchup with the San Jose Sharks looms. Lose, and it's winner take all at the United Center Thursday night. The Blackhawks bags are packed and ready to go, it's only a matter of which flight plan they want to follow.

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