The Chicago Blackhawks were able to avoid elimination in Game 5 with an impressive win over the Detroit Red Wings. With everything on the line once again in Game 6, we took some time to speak with Keith Schultz of FanSided’s Chicago Blackhawks website Blackhawk Up and Peter Fish of FanSided’s Detroit Red Wings site Octopus Thrower. Both men answered questions about the upcoming game and shared their thoughts on the most important players and match ups in this do or die game.
What did they have to say? Here are their thoughts:
FanSided: What led to your team being where they are now?
Red Wings: Until game five, Detroit’s play was causing Chicago to become frustrated and take bad penalties, while Detroit maintained their composer, add in Jimmy Howard being a brick wall and it equals a 3-2 series lead for the Wings.
Blackhawks: I think a lack of playoff intensity led the Blackhawks to being so far down in the series. Yes, bad power plays and being out-coached by Babcock played a part, but those things would have been remedied if the team had the playoff mentality that the Red Wings developed from their previous 7 game series against the Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks weren’t really pushed to their breaking point at any time during their series against the Minnesota Wild and finally experienced what a must-win game feels like for the first time in this season’s playoffs.
FanSided: How has the series been so dramatically different from game to game? From Chicago’s offensive outbreaks in Game 1 and Game 5, to the poor outings in the other three games?
Red Wings: Not to take away from Chicago, but in games one and five Detroit played awful; they weren’t hustling and they were beat up physically. In games two, three, and four; the Wings played like a team, out worked, and out smarted the Hawks. This is commonly referred to as Red Wings’ hockey.
Blackhawks: In Game 1, the Red Wings looked tired and out of sorts, and the Blackhawks jumped on them with a lot of energy from their rest. But Detroit knew what it would take to get a firm grip in this series, and they became a lot more focused a lot faster than Chicago. Chicago’s inconsistent lineup and effort have made this series resemble nothing of what the regular season predicted – a long, tight-game series.
FanSided: What is the most pivotal match up for your team?
Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg vs Jonathan Toews. In game five, Zetterberg was almost never matched up against Toews and he took advantage of it. Zetterberg will have to shut him down again tonight if the Wings want to move on.
Blackhawks: Special Teams, even though both teams struggle on the power play the last two game winning goals have been scored with the man advantage. The Hawks power play has been so bad before Game 5 that it was killing momentum. Even if the Hawks don’t score the two minutes need to be productive.
FanSided: Who is the most important player to your team’s success tonight?
Red Wings: Jimmy Howard has been the MVP of the Red Wings so far in the playoffs and that cannot change now. If the Wings want to end the series tonight, it begins between the pipes.
Blackhawks: The answer will probably always be the captain. Jonathan Toews is so important to the team in attitude, emotion, and effort. If Toews is strong in face offs and taking the puck to the net, his team will follow, and the Red Wings can’t shut down the whole team. If your looking for a non superstar look to Andrew Shaw who’s been terrible in the Hawks losses by crossing the line of intense to out of control, but really effective in the Hawks wins including a 2 goal effort in Game 5.
FanSided: What is your prediction for tonight’s game?
Red Wings: After being embarrassed in game four and receiving the dreaded Mike Babcock death stare the past few day I expect the Wings to come out strong and finish off the Blackhawks by a score of 4-2.
Blackhawks: I expect the Wings to have their strongest game of the postseason tonight, and with home ice advantage, this will be an extremely difficult challenge for the Blackhawks. But if the Blackhawks keep the momentum and give an even greater effort than in Game 5, I’m predicting a 2-1 overtime win for the Blackhawks.