Stanley Cup Final 2013: Can The Blackhawks Keep Up Their Game 5 Magic?
At the tail end of this week, as the series returns to Chicago in a 2-2 knot, it is therefore only fair to reflect on the Hawks’ clear historical advantage over the Bruins in Game 5s.
Saturday night will be the fifth time in Joel Quenneville’s coaching tenure that the Blackhawks have a chance to take a 3-2 lead in a playoff series. The last time they were in this situation was their previous finals appearance against Philadelphia in 2010.
That night, in front of their energizing fanbase, they improved to 4-0 in that scenario with a 7-4 barnburner. From there, they proceeded to clinch the Cup in six games.
Not only have Quenneville’s Blackhawks broken 2-2 ties at every opportunity, but they have subsequently won Game 6 and, in turn, the series. They did it against Calgary and Vancouver in 2009 and again at the expense of the Predators and Flyers during their 2010 title run.
Overall, regardless of the implications, Chicago owns an aggregate Game 5 record of 9-2 in the past five postseasons, including a 5-1 transcript at the United Center. The Hawks may have gone an empty 0-4 in Game 3 this spring, but they have a chance to go 4-0 in Game 5 over the same span.
Furthermore, beginning with that critical tiebreaker versus the Flyers in the 2010 finals, the Blackhawks are riding a six-game winning streak in Game 5s.
In 2011, when facing elimination, they blanked the Canucks in Vancouver, 5-0. Last year, captain Jonathan Toews averted first-round defeat with an overtime goal against Phoenix, forcing a sixth game.
The opposing Bruins, on the other hand, have gone 5-5 in Game 5s during the ongoing coaching tenure of Claude Julien. That includes a 2-2 run when a series is in a 2-2 deadlock.
Boston is also Chicago’s inverse in that its recent Game 5 track record started favorably but has recently receded.
Julien’s first two seasons behind the bench saw the Bruins fall into a 3-1 hole against Montreal in 2008 and Carolina in 2009. In both cases, they won Game 5 and the resultant Game 6 before flaming out in the rubber match.
In the last four years, including this spring, they are 3-5 in Game 5. Starting with a failed first attempt to eliminate Buffalo from the opening round in 2010, they are 0-2 when this portion of a series is staged away from TD Garden.
The only other away game (and loss) was a 1-0 falter that dropped them behind the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2, in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Granted, they rebounded to corral the Cup that year. Nonetheless, that loss broke up a perfect track record of trying to break 2-2 ties, which the Bruins had done successfully against both Montreal and Tampa Bay earlier in those playoffs.
A year ago, the Bruins dropped to an even 2-2 when a series is tied at two when they spilled a 4-3 decision at home to the Washington Capitals. They bounced back to force a decider, only to lose the series.
This postseason, Boston is 1-1 in the fifth game, having whiffed on a chance to close out the Maple Leafs and then successfully shut down the Rangers, both at home.
If all of this says nothing else as to how each party should be scrutinized on Saturday, it says that the Blackhawks have a history of productive poise as a series inches into its latter stages. Nothing wrong with bearing that in mind, as long as it does not inhibit their endeavor to ensure history repeats itself.
Their challenge, especially for the core group, is to rerun that poise while the Bruins need to be ready to reciprocate and break a few barriers. Being the first team to defeat the Quenneville-coached Hawks in a Game 5 that busts a 2-2 tie could be a momentous step up from their 2011 selves.
Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics and past playoff results for this report were found via hockey-reference.com.
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