Blackhawks treating Game 4 like it's a must win


Blackhawks treating Game 4 like it's a must win

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks have reached this point again, although faster than most of us figured they would in this round.

They’re up 3-0 in this second-round series against the Minnesota Wild with a chance for a sweep on Thursday. But as we’ve written in previous rounds, the Blackhawks know that fourth victory is the toughest to get. And to get it this time, they’re going to have to bring their best game yet.

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The Blackhawks have a few chances to finish this series; their first is on Thursday when the Wild host Game 4 at Xcel Energy Center. But getting over that final hurdle is tricky. The opponent’s game gets that much more desperate and the Blackhawks have to match that, knowing it’s not the end of the world – or the postseason – for them if they do lose.

“You’ve got to expect them to come out hard. They’re not going to give up and roll over,” Andrew Shaw said. “They’re a great team. We’ve had some really tight games with them. So we’ve got to keep doing the same thing. We’ve got to play patient hockey and capitalize on our opportunities and if Corey [Crawford] keeps standing on his head and our [defense] keeps clearing the puck, we should have success.”

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At this time of year talk turns to teams having a “killer instinct.” Ryan Suter said the Blackhawks had it following their 4-1 Game 2 victory over the Wild. That instinct is something the Blackhawks tap into even more when they’ve got the chance to close a series. For them, every game has to be a must-win.

“We’ve been in a lot of different situations: we’ve been down 3-0, ahead 3-0. You’re always playing that next game like it’s a game you have to win. That’s your focus,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You don’t think of the three games after [Game 4]. Right off the bat, we want to make sure we’re playing the right way and not waiting for them to come at us. We want to make sure we try to quiet them even more effectively than we did yesterday.”

Several Blackhawks point to Game 2 against the Wild as their best of this postseason. They were strong on both sides of the puck and in goal. And they feel they’ll have to play as well as that, perhaps even a little better, to win this series.

“The Game 2 we had was probably one of our best in the playoffs,” Johnny Oduya said. “We want that effort, and that’s what’s going to be needed to win that game and that’s all we think about.”

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The Blackhawks are closing in on another series clincher. They haven’t won anything yet and aren’t thinking past this next game. If they play accordingly, it could be their last game for several days.

“We have to treat it obviously like the game that it is. We know what’s at stake,” Oduya said. “You can’t really go away too far from what you want to do and how you want to play. It’s a fun game, the type of character games you want to be in. But with that said, we know how we have to play.”

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 6 win over Canucks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 6 win over Canucks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After failing to close out the series at home in Game 5, the Blackhawks took care of business in Vancouver by eliminating the Canucks following a 5-1 win in Game 6 to advance to the Western Conference Final for the second straight season. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Contributions all around

The 2010 Blackhawks had ridiculous depth. And they flexed their muscles in Game 6 after three of the four lines contributed on the scoresheet. 

Five different Blackhawks scored in the win (Troy Brouwer, Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg) and three others recorded an assist (Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp). Byfuglien and Kane each had multi-point outings.

2. Dave Bolland ices the game

After a scoreless first period, the Blackhawks scored two goals in a 36-second span in the opening minutes of the second period to take a 2-0 lead. The next goal was going to be a crucial one as the game went on.

With 1:03 left in the period, the Canucks were awarded a power play. It was a prime opportunity to get themselves back in the game and generate momentum. But that did not happen thanks to The Rat.

Bolland, who was a pest all series long, disrupted Pavol Demitra's pass at the point, caught the puck in his hand, dropped it on the ice, fought off Demitra twice and snuck a shot past Robert Luongo to put the Blackhawks up 3-0.

The Canucks never recovered.

3. Containing the Sedin twins

Big-time players make big-time plays in the biggest moments. The Blackhawks are a perfect example of that. Can you think of a better big-game player than Patrick Kane? Jonathan Toews? Duncan Keith? The core together?

The Canucks, at home, had the advantage of drawing favorable defensive matchups. But Henrik and Daniel Sedin went up against Bolland's line, which contained both of them.

At even strength, the Sedins had 15 shot attempts for and six against and seven scoring chances for and four against, according to Natural Stat Trick. But they gave up two goals and scored zero.

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Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

USA Today

Toronto cancels city events through June 30: here's what it means for NHL

Tuesday afternoon Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the city would cancel all major city-wide events until June 30. For baseball fans hoping to start their season and basketball and hockey fans hoping to get back into the swing of theirs, the news makes it hard to envision live sports returning before July. 

What does this mean for the NHL? Well, technically the ban is for city-wide events such as parades, events, festivals, and other cultural programs, excluding the NHL. 

However, professional sports will have to contend with the province of Ontario, which banned gatherings of more than five earlier this month. 

The NHL recently reached out to arenas asking for their availability in July and August. 

The idea of finishing out the 2020 season in summer is becoming more and more likely as governments continue to grapple with the severity of COVID-19. There have been speculations about what this new schedule will look like for the NHL, including a shortened 2020-21 preseason and eliminating by-weeks and All-Star weekend. This will present its own unique challenges, including arenas in warmer climates struggling to maintain ice quality for summer games. But if more major cities follow Toronto’s lead, all we know for certain is that a return to normalcy may be longer than anticipated. 

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