The Chicago Blackhawks were victorious in a pivotal Game 4 at TD Garden, and the Madhouse on Madison will be full of intensity as the series shifts back to Chicago for Game 5.
Game 4 was the third overtime game of the series, and the Blackhawks are very luck that Corey Crawford’s glove hand, or lack thereof, didn’t cost them the game.
The Blackhawks had a little bit of everything going for them on Wednesday, and they capitalized on some of the Bruins’ mistakes. Tuukka Rask looked human for a change, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane played better and the Blackhawks got the job done when it mattered most.
The winner of this game will have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup after Game 6, so setting the tone early in Game 5 will be critical.
Time: Saturday, June 22 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: United Center, Chicago
Series: Tied at 2-2
Key Storyline: Corey Crawford Looks Different
The biggest narrative heading into Game 5 focuses on the play of Corey Crawford. He may have earned a victory for his performance in Game 4, but he wasn’t the better goaltender. Rask was beaten by good goals, and Crawford was beaten by shots he should have stopped.
Crawford couldn’t stop shots that went toward his glove hand, and he was fighting the puck all night long. His reaction time was off and he was out of position on most of the goals allowed.
It isn’t normal for a goalie to go from very good to very bad overnight. The majority of Crawford's problems were based on his positioning. If he looks at the game tape, he should be able to adjust.
Prior to the game, Crawford was practically unbeatable, so it's strange that he came apart at the seams all of a sudden. Crawford had a stellar first round, he kept the Blackhawks in the series against the Detroit Red Wings and he bested Jonathan Quick in the conference final.
Through three Stanley Cup Final games, Crawford was keeping serve with Tuukka Rask. But something looked off during Game 4. Although both goalies gave up a ton of goals, Crawford’s were more noticeable, and he looked off his game.
Key Matchup: Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg vs. Blackhawks’ Top Line
The Blackhawks’ top players had an effective Game 4, and the Bruins will look to neutralize them in Game 5. Chara and Seidenberg each had an off night, which may have been a byproduct of Joel Quenneville flipping his lines. Chara was a minus-three, and Seidenberg was a minus-two.
These defenders are used to playing at an elite level, so it was certainly odd to see both have off nights. For that reason, this matchup will be a point of emphasis for both teams.
With so many different combinations, it was not easy for the Bruins’ top defensive pair to pick up on the tendencies of players like Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Quenneville probably should have jumbled his lines earlier, but he made the necessary changes before it was too late.
In Game 5, the Blackhawks will be able to get the matchups they want, so when Chara and Seidenberg are on the ice, they will need to be better defensively.
Injury Report (via TSN)
Gregory Campbell out for remainder of playoffs with broken leg.
Bruins' Projected Lineup
Line 1: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Jaromir Jagr
Line 2: Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Nathan Horton
Line 3: Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly
Line 4: Rich Peverley, Kaspars Daugavins, Shawn Thornton
Line 1: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg
Line 2: Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk
Line 3: Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid
Blackhawks' Projected Lineup
Line 1: Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane
Line 2: Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus, Marian Hossa
Line 3: Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Michael Frolik
Line 4: Andrew Shaw, Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg
Line 1: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook
Line 2: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya
Line 3: Michal Rozsival, Nick Leddy
Blackhawks Will Win If...
The Chicago Blackhawks will win this game if Corey Crawford has a strong performance.
The Blackhawks have illustrated that they can score a lot of goals, and they pulled off a victory despite Crawford struggling mightily. Toews and Kane are now producing, and that is another positive for the Hawks.
Winning a pivotal Game 4 on the road was key for the Blackhawks, and they now can control their destiny for the rest of the series. They were finding ways to win without their stars, but now they are poised to take over the finals.
Bruins Will Win If...
The Bruins will head home with a chance to lift the Stanley Cup on home ice if they can limit the Blackhawks’ offensive chances and their top line steps up. David Krejci has had an amazing playoff run, but he hasn’t had a great Cup Final.
The Bruins showed a ton of resilience during Game 4, and they were a goal post away from taking a 3-1 series lead.
Prediction: Boston Bruins 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Game 5 is going to be tighter, and that suits the Bruins’ style. They are a physical team that likes to play a tight checking game, and when the game is played at a slower speed, they can dominate.
The Blackhawks have more skill, so look for the Bruins to clog the neutral zone similar to how they did in Games 2 and 3. When the Bruins limited the Blackhawks’ ability to enter the zone, Chicago didn’t generate many offensive chances.
The Bruins will also win Game 5 because they should be able to score enough goals while limiting the Blackhawks’ chances. The Bruins have exploited a weakness in Crawford’s game, and they will use that to their advantage on Saturday.
Anything can happen in Game 5, but the Bruins should be able to win after making a few course corrections.