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Thursday, February 29

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Blackhawks Sat Jun 05 2010

And This is Why Home Ice is Important

Well, that's certainly not the game the Blackhawks were looking for in Game 4, losing 5-3 to send the series back to Chicago Sunday as a best of three, in a game that wasn't as close as it looked on the scoreboard. The Flyers held a 4-1 lead in the middle of the third before the Hawks finally were able to convert on a powerplay (during a 5-on-3), and then pick up a second goal to make things interesting before Jeff Carter iced the game with an empty netter.

However, the game was essentially lost in the first period. Despite outplaying the Flyers for long stretches in the first, including holding them 10 minutes without a shot, two brutal Niklas Hjalmarsson turnovers on each side of that span gave Philly a 2-0 lead. After Patrick Sharp picked up a goal with 1:28 left in the first to make it 2-1, the key sequence of the game followed, as an absolutely inexcusable defensive breakdown left Claude Giroux to tip the puck into an empty net with 37 seconds left. The goal restored Philly's two-goal lead heading into the first intermission, and the Hawks never had a strong response until too late in the third.

Along with the defensive flameouts, undisciplined play cost the Hawks yet again, as they gave up six power plays, though limited the Flyers to a single goal with an improved penalty kill. However, putting themselves shorthanded, especially twice during the second period, cost the Blackhawks in their effort to pull themselves back into the game. Also, yet again, the Hawks top line, especially Dustin Byfuglien, was nonexistent. It's reaching the point where Chicago needs its young stars to get on the score sheet, and while they haven't looked bad, the Flyers swarming D and the looming presence of Chris Pronger has taken them out of this series.

The rally in the third period, though too late, shows the Blackhawks do still have some fight in them, and hopefully that can carry over to the United Center Sunday night. Also, after struggling in Game 3, Chicago won 56 percent of their faceoffs, with Toews dominating the circle in going 24 of 33. Despite the offense struggling to get pucks into the net, they held play for long stretches, outshooting the Flyers 34-31. On top of that, Philadelphia blocked 28 more Hawk attempts, a sign of the strong defense the Flyers play and the Hawks perhaps holding onto the puck a little too long and tight.

So now it's a best of three, and while the Blackhawks may be lucky to be tied given the way the Flyers have outworked them a majority of the series, two straight losses needs to give them the necessary motivation. It's reaching the point of win or go home, and while no one expected the road to be easy, it's time for the Hawks to step up and play the kind of game that helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals in the first place.

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Brian Lauvray / June 5, 2010 5:07 PM

Pronger has absolutely pwned DB this series. So frustrating.

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