The Chicago Blackhawks' Game 5 effort was exactly what fans wanted to see. The 'Hawks were aggressive, got to the net and extended their Western Conference semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings with a 4-1 victory.
The win still leaves Chicago down 3-2 in the series with a tough Game 6 assignment in Detroit Monday night. Still, it was the first step in what we're hoping is a classic comeback against the Red Wings.
Game 5 saw coach Joel Quenneville make the decision to restore his defensive pairings to an earlier vintage. This brought a struggling Brent Seabrook back together with Duncan Keith. The two players combined for three assists on the night.
Here are some other observations from what was a satisfying Saturday night:
- Hopefully, Jonathan Toews can build on the momentum of his Game 5 breakthrough. Quenneville was able to keep Henrik Zetterberg away from the captain, and Toews got his first goal of the playoffs. Hopefully, bouncing a power-play goal off Jimmy Howard's face will lead to more scoring.
- The power play produced a pair of goals. This was a huge factor in securing the win. Andrew Shaw's redirect was the culmination of a sustained attack that saw the 'Hawks hold the puck in the Detroit zone for an impressive stretch. The Toews goal actually featured movement and passing. It was refreshing to watch and needs to continue.
- Bryan Bickell was a force to be reckoned with. In addition to his putback off a rebound for Chicago's first goal, Bickell registered some big hits. Plastering Niklas Kronwall behind the 'Hawks' net was the icing on the cake.
- Dave Bolland was on the fourth line most of the night and wasn't particularly effective. However, he did manage to neutralize his first penalty in the middle frame by baiting Justin Abdelkader into taking a penalty as well.
- Shaw took advantage of another rebound allowed by Howard on a Viktor Stalberg attempt, looping behind the net and beating Howard to the post. It's about time the Blackhawks made Howard pay for leaving pucks around the net.
The 'Hawks still have a ways to go before this comeback story can conclude in Chicago's favor. There's the matter of Game 6 in Detroit, where Mike Babcock will have the last line change, and the home crowd will be pushing for the end of the series.
However, the Blackhawks did step up and win a game that extended their season for at least one more game. The ending is yet to be written, but Chicago earned the right to play on. The next chapter goes to press Monday night.