Chicago Blackhawks: How to Close Out St. Louis Blues in Game 6

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IApril 27, 2014

Chicago is hoping to end its first-round series with St. Louis at the United Center Sunday afternoon.
Chicago is hoping to end its first-round series with St. Louis at the United Center Sunday afternoon.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have control of their Western Conference first-round series with the St. Louis Blues. What a difference a week makes.

At this time seven days ago, Chicago was down 0-2 in the series. The 'Hawks were smarting from a pair of overtime losses and searching for a way to reverse the momentum and avoid an early postseason exit.

Entering Sunday's action, the Blackhawks lead the best-of-seven series three games to two. Chicago evened the series earlier this week at the United Center and wrested home ice from the Blues with Friday's 3-2 overtime triumph.

Despite Game 6 being in Chicago and the 'Hawks seemingly being in the driver's seat, eliminating the Blues is not likely to be a cakewalk. Four of the five games in the series have needed extra time.

St. Louis is going to be in full desperation mode and will be attempting to bring the series home for a seventh game.

Chicago has scored first in each of its wins. The Blues have dented the twine first in each of theirs. Obviously, getting on the scoreboard early will be a factor in how Game 6 develops.

Getting in front early cranks up the pressure on St. Louis to avoid blowing a 2-0 series lead in the opening round for the second straight season.

Patrick Sharp is still looking for his first goal of the postseason.
Patrick Sharp is still looking for his first goal of the postseason.USA TODAY Sports

Brent Seabrook returns from his three-game suspension Sunday. This makes a tough Chicago defense a bit tougher to play against. Time will tell if the Blues attempt to extract revenge for Seabrook's big hit on captain David Backes.

The Blues are up against the wall and may attempt to amp up what has already been a physical series. That could result in St. Louis goading the 'Hawks into retaliatory penalties.

The Blackhawks' penalty kill has been excellent against the Blues. This is impressive considering that Chicago has been uncharacteristically prone to committing infractions.

The Blues have had 23 power-play opportunities in this series, converting just twice. Chicago hasn't fared much better with the man advantage, lighting the lamp just twice on 18 attempts.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have game-winners in each of the last two Chicago wins. Marian Hossa got on the scoreboard in the last two games.

That leaves Patrick Sharp as a player who could be a real X-factor in Game 6.

Sharp has no points in this postseason despite having 21 shots on goal in the first five games on the series. He and Brandon Bollig are the only 'Hawks with a goose egg against the Blues.

With a pair of goals and four assists in five regular-season games against St. Louis as well as a history for going on scoring tears, Sharp could be primed for a breakout game.

Keep an eye on Chicago's second line Sunday. Hossa, Sharp and Ben Smith could lead an offensive explosion, leading to the 'Hawks closing out the series Sunday.