1. Time for the Big Dogs to come out and play. The Chicago Blackhawks did what they wanted to do when they opened the series down in Tampa Bay. They wanted to win one of those first 2 road games, and they did. They almost won both, which would have been lethal to the Lightning. What is amazing is that they have done this without anybody from the top 2 lines scoring a goal. These top 6 are not playing poorly, but we have not seen the explosive offense from these top dogs that was a constant in the 3 previous series. With head coach Joel Quenneville getting the last change, either Jonathan Toews of Patrick Kane will not have to deal with Viktor Hedman, who has been a beast on the back end for the Bolts. Let your best players be your best players, and then ride that wave of confidence.
2. Who cares who starts – shots and bodies early. This Tampa team has come out in both games so far with impressive starts. They got pucks deep, got it back, and got some shots on net which created some positive momentum. The Hawks have to dictate play tonight by playing on their toes and using the energy 22,000 plus screaming fans as a huge advantage. The goals the Blackhawks have scored so far have all come with traffic around goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop looked a little uncomfortable this morning during the morning skate, so if he can’t go, get to the youngster Vasilevskiy as quickly as possible. Vasilevskiy looked good in relief of Bishop in the last game, but wasn’t tested enough and saw everything that he stopped.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. Keep it simple Trevor. As of this writing we still did not know whether Trevor van Riemsdyk will be in the lineup for the Hawks tonight. If I had to guess, it looks like he’ll be in. This will be tough for the 1st year NHL player who was injured in a game against Dallas in mid-November when he broke his patella. When rehabbing down in Rockford a few months ago he was dealt another setback when he broke his wrist in a game there. The advice for TVR: keep it short and simple. We know he has great patience with the puck –holding on to it until the last second to make that pass. That should help him tonight where the Lightning have done a great job of rushing the Blackhawks defense into bad passes. What a dream for the 23 year old where his first playoff game as a professional is in the Stanley Cup Finals.