After indulging in the first 4 playoff games of the first round, we have certainly gotten a feel for each teams first punch. Chicago netminder, Corey Crawford had a great bounce back performance in game 3 at the United Center with stellar performance. After allowing the game tying goal in the closing minute of games 1 and 2, only to lose both of the games in overtime. Game 3 was definitely a redemption game as Corey Crawford was sharp as a tack for 3 periods earning a 2-0 shutout victory and got help from Patrick Kane’s goal in overtime of game 4 to tie the series at 2. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard was unyielding in game 1 in his 2nd career playoff shutout taking a surprising 1-0 series lead on the road. The Red Wings would then follow with a lethargic effort in games 2 and 3 as Boston played with more urgency skating to an easy 4-1 and 3-0 victories in games 2 and 3, respectively.
You want drama, we got it in the Hawks-Blues series in game 2. Brent Seabrook head checked David Backes against the glass and he collapsed immediately down to the ice. Backes missed game 4 and is listed day-to-day. The hit was reviewed and the league slapped Seabrook with a 3 game suspension. In the series, Ryan Miller has been as good as you can ask against a high-octane power in Chicago. Kane got the best of Miller last night with a thrilling wrist shot game winner in overtime. The series now shifts back to St. Louis Friday night for a can’t miss game 5 tilt. However, the Blues will be without the services of Brenden Morrow out for the remainder of the series and possibly Backes out too (concussion). With Toews and Kane back in the playoff lineup, the Blackhawks are fine tuning themselves for another deep playoff run. Expect the next 2 games to be highly competitive but Chicago will writhe their way out and win the series in 6.
I predicted a breakthrough playoff appearance by Henrik Zetterberg by game 6, looks like he’ll see limited action tonight in game 4 as he is cleared to play by the team physicians. Boston could have Detroit’s back up against the proverbial wall with a victory tonight. Zetterberg is expected to put up 10-12 minutes tonight and his leadership is needed to direct Tomas Tatar, Jurco, and the rest of the youth to play with a more tenacity. Tuukka Rask has been excellent behind goal but not dominate. Howard has performed almost as good but the Red Wing attackers haven’t given themselves enough scoring opportunities. “We need traffic in front of the net to generate more second chance opportunities, making it too easy on their goalie,” Danny DeKeyser response to what they have to do different in game 4. Detroit is 0-9 on power plays in the series and getting pucks in the net is the difference. Zetterberg’s leadership will definitely be a lift the team desperately needs if can he make the best out of his limited minutes and on the power play tonight. Detroit stares at 1-2 games deficit but the series can easily shift with the right bounce here, right bounce there, and the Red Wings are right back in the series. Look for a confident Mike Babcock to make the appropriate adjustments to figure out the Boston defense that could lead to solving Rask. Detroit will need to attack early and often coming out the gate, if they can jump out early on Boston it could restore the confidence in the youth and change the complexion of the series. Still going with Detroit in 7. Believe!