The Chicago Blackhawks have what it takes to bring the Western Conference Final back to the Windy City. Friday's Game 6 is at the Staples Center, where the Blackhawks have found a way to win in the past.
Chicago has the game to extend the series to a seventh game. Whether that game boarded the charter to Los Angeles is another matter.
The 'Hawks have adopted the correct attitude. Captain Jonathan Toews explained the mentality to ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers Thursday:
We just have to win one game and that game's [Friday] night. We're not worried about more than that. The game we played as a team last night gave us that good feeling again. As far as I'm concerned, we're back on the horse. We're excited to play again [Friday] night.
You have to have that desperation. We showed it last night, but at the same time, we've tried to remind ourselves that the pressure is on them, and that's the way it's going to be the rest of this series. We're just going to keep fighting to stay alive.
Toews is right, of course. Chicago can't win two games Friday. All the 'Hawks can do is win the game in front of them and then start thinking of a possible Game 7.
There were moments in Wednesday's Game 5 where it looked like the Blackhawks were playing the type of fast-paced, possession hockey that could be the difference in the series. On the other hand, the Kings were still a shot away from closing out Chicago.
Do the 'Hawks have enough in the tank to travel to the coast and maintain that pace for another 60 minutes? We're going to find out.
It's anyone's guess as to what lineup coach Joel Quenneville comes up with in Game 6. I would believe that Patrick Kane skates with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad as he did Wednesday. From there, Quenneville has some decisions to make.
Kris Versteeg sat out the latter portion of Chicago's 5-4 overtime win. This could result in Quenneville scratching the veteran forward in favor of Peter Regin.
He could opt for some fresh legs and replace Brandon Bollig with either Joakim Nordstrom or Jeremy Morin. However, unless Quenneville is ready to give his 12th forward consistent ice time, it may not make much difference.
Michal Handzus backhanded home the game-winner Wednesday but was used sparingly in Game 5. There are players like Kane and Saad who blew up in the victory, but also a few like Versteeg who just haven't been up to snuff.
Here's a quick request to the aliens who kidnapped Patrick Sharp: Putting Sharp back in the No. 10 sweater would sure benefit the Blackhawks.
Quenneville may or may not retain the juggled defensive pairings of Game 5, though he certainly is keeping Corey Crawford in net for Game 6. Crawford has come up with a big game in each round of the playoffs, and Friday would be a great time for him to stand on his head.
The Blackhawks can't afford to depend on Los Angeles wilting in the face of its second chance to eliminate Chicago from the postseason. To send the series back to the United Center, the 'Hawks are going to have to bring all the right pieces to Game 6.
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