Wednesday night’s loss to the Flyers was tough.Philadelphia came out with a fury that I haven’t seen in a long time.
They were headhunting and played a very, very physical game, and ultimately that won them the game in overtime. But chin up Blackhawks fans, because all signs point to a victory in Game Four.
1. Antti Niemi Had a Rough Night
Niemi has been notoriously good in this postseason for coming off bad games with superlative efforts.
Take games one and two of this series. Niemi finished Game One with a less than impressive .844 save percentage, but followed that with a .970 in Game Two.
After putting up a .875 tonight, Niemi is poised for another comeback.
2. Road Game Experience
The Blackhawks haven’t played at the Wachovia Center all year, so it’s understandable that they had a rough time in such a hostile environment.
They managed pretty well, and even silenced the crowd a few times, and they can carry over what they learned to Friday so that the crowd will be less of a factor.
3. Pronger’s Vengeance
Chris Pronger’s rage has by no means been sated.
However, he left it all on the ice tonight and he left with a victory.
Now that he isn’t feeding his rage by making snide comments to the media and his ego feels a little bit more intact, he may tone down the blood thirst in Game Four.
4. Marian Hossa
Forgot about his curse, Marian Hossa was at the top of his game tonight.
His puck handling was incredible, he had a couple of great plays, and he fought as hard as he could all game long.
I would look for Coach Quenneville to find way to build around Hossa’s play-making ability.
5. The End of the First Line’s Goalless Streak
With Patrick Kane’s goal tonight, the goalless streak of Chicago’s first line comes to an end.
Philadelphia has done a great job keeping Dustin Byfuglien, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane in check, but the group is starting to figure out their opponent (as shown by Kane’s breakaway goal tonight,) and I would expect that to continue on Friday.
Ultimately it is extremely difficult to pick a definite winner for Friday’s game, but considering all the factors that are in their favor after this tough loss, the Blackhawks are still looking like the team to beat coming into Game Four.