Blackhawks vs. Red Wings: Playmakers Who Will Be Difference in Pivotal Game 3

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2013

Patrick Sharp is the difference maker in the Windy City.
Patrick Sharp is the difference maker in the Windy City.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With the series tied at 1-1, the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings will rely on their playmakers to take the advantage in the series. 

Before the puck drops tonight, here are the players from each team that will make the difference in Game 3. 


Chicago Blackhawks

Patrick Sharp, C

Sharp has already proven himself to be the X-factor in Chicago. In Game 1 against Detroit, Sharp had three points on two assists and a goal that propelled the Blackhawks to a 4-1 win. 

Then in Game 2, though, he was limited to one assist, and the Red Wings evened the series at one game apiece with a 4-1 victory of their own. 

Throughout the playoffs so far, the Blackhawks have generally done well when Sharp does well and vice versa. 

In Chicago's first series against the Minnesota Wild, the only two games that Sharp's team had trouble with were games in which he struggled. In Games 1 and 3, he combined for just one point combined, and the Blackhawks split those games. 

The Windy City faithfully rely on Sharp night in and night out. He'll have to show up in Game 3 if the Blackhawks want to fend off a pesky Detroit team. 


Marian Hossa, RW

Game 2's loss to the Red Wings was the first time that Hossa had been held without a point in five games. Before that, Hossa had accounted for six points over the previous four games, including a three-point, two-goal showing in Game 5 against the Wild. 

Since the playoffs again, Hossa has scored four goals and has a plus-minus of one. So, he's clearly a positive force on the ice for Chicago. 

Hossa is also the only player on the entire squad to account for multiple power play goals this postseason with two. So, Hossa has shown that he can convert when opportunities arise. 

While Sharp may be the focal point of Chicago's plans for success, Hossa is absolutely a pivotal piece that the Blackhawks have to rely on in Game 3. 


Detroit Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk, C 

Datsyuk has been held pointless in the last three postseason games. However, he's still a crucial reason the Red Wings have hung around so far. 

According to Adam Gretz of CBS Sports, Datsyuk was the reason that the Red Wings won Game 2, despite being held without a point. 

And despite not scoring a point in the last three games, Datsyuk is still second on Detroit's roster in points in the playoffs with seven (two goals, five assists). 

There's no question that Datsyuk is one of the best defensive forwards in all of hockey. That defense played a huge role against Chicago in Game 2, where they held the Blackhawks to just one goal. 

If Datsyuk can find a way to get an assist or two, or maybe even light the lamp himself on Monday, the Red Wings stand a good chance of taking a 2-1 series lead. 


Jimmy Howard, G

Despite being inconsistent throughout the playoffs, goalie Jimmy Howard is coming off his best game of the postseason. In Game 2 against Chicago, Howard had a save percentage of .950 and limited the Blackhawks to just one goal. 

That was the first time since the playoffs began that Howard only allowed one goal. 

He'll have to do more of that if the Red Wings want to take control of this series. 

Against the Anaheim Ducks in the first series for Detroit, the Red Wings won both games that Howard held the Ducks to two goals. 

The Red Wings have enough talent offensively to stay in almost any game. If they can get the performance they got from Howard in Game 3 that they got in Game 2, the fans in the Motor City will probably watch their team take control of the series.