The Chicago Blackhawks had their backs up against the wall entering Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings but they came out hard in front of the home crowd to get a game back and narrow Detroit’s lead to 3-2.
Andrew Shaw nearly picked up a hat trick in Game 5 scoring two goals in the second and then third period of the game. Jonathan Toews snapped out of his funk to pick up his first goal of the postseason and the scoring was rounded out by Brian Bickell who actually scored the first game of the night. After not scoring a goal in five periods of hockey, Chicago’s offense snapped back to life and was on fire against Jimmy Howard on Saturday night.
Speaking of Howard, he was looking to be unstoppable in this series but was lit up in Game 5 in uncharacteristic fashion. Up until the game, Howard had been able to clamp down on an otherwise lighting fast and effective Blackhawks offense which was a major reason for the Red Wings lead in the series. But the Hawks got to Howard in Game 5 and Chicago now has new life.
But while the Hawks have new life, the Red Wings still seem like they’re too good to lose two straight games. If there’s a team that can do it, it’s the Blackhawks. The team we saw demolish Detroit on Saturday was the Chicago team we’re used to but this Red Wings team stifled the Hawks on more than one occasion in this series and we still can’t be confident that the proper Blackhawks team will show up in Game 6.
One thing that might change the series is the sudden physicality of the Blackhawks. The Red Wings were getting inside the heads of Chicago’s skaters in the previous games and it was bubbling over into poor hockey as Jonathan Toews was doing more time barking at the refs than he was leading the team. But with the Blackhawks in control of the hitting, they mounted a three goal lead that they beat the Red Wings away from.
Chicago needs to be careful how physical they get, as penalty minutes are crucial minutes to give Detroit scoring chances, but if they have finally matched the Red Wings in terms of physicality. this series might have just tipped in the favor of Chicago.
We’re headed to a big Game 6 showdown back in Detroit where the Blackhawks have yet to win in the postseason. They’ll need to break that streak if they want to return the series to the United Center for a Game 7. The atmosphere was electric in Chicago on Saturday and you can bet it will only be ramped up even more in Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.