The sight was a bizarre scene, that Game 4: Pucks going in at a rapid rate, great scoring opportunities piling up for each side, sheer offensive madness.
What was strange was that this was happening between two very defensive-minded teams in the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins. But happened, it did, as the teams’ defense and goaltending did their best rendition of a Flyers-Penguins postseason game. While that Eastern Conference rivalry features that every game, it’ll be very surprising of the Blackhawks and Bruins trade scoring blows again like that in Game 5.
“You want to make sure it's going to be tight. You expect them to play tight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play with a purpose. We want to make sure, defensively, there's a purpose there.
Offensively, we want to make sure we make them play on their end a little bit more going into this game than the prior game, for sure.”
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Yes, from an offensive point of view, each team would love to have that wide-open game they enjoyed in Game 4. But these two squads are built on defense, and the pride of performing in that category well. Chances are Game 5 will look more like Games 1, 2 and 3 than they did the last one.
“I’d be very surprised if it would be a game like Game 4,” Michael Frolik said. “For sure, as a team we don’t want to give up as many goals. It doesn’t matter. The win counts and we just want one more goal than their team. But I expect it to be a much tighter game.”
For the Blackhawks, they want to tighten up defensively overall. That means a better performance by goaltender Corey Crawford, who had an off night, mainly on his glove side. That means a better penalty kill, which has been so strong most of the postseason but allowed two more to the Bruins in Game 4. And that means everybody, from forwards to defensemen, contributing on clamping things down.
“The first job is to play good defense and limit their scoring chances, but that comes through the team defense, not just the defensemen or the goalies,” Duncan Keith said. “That can’t get overlooked. All five guys back, going hard in the puck area, that’s what we want to do.”
Oh, and that puck-control game they like to play doesn’t hurt, either.
“What we think the best defense is, is a good offense. Having the puck and making them defend is what we try to do,” Quenneville said. “Forcing the puck up ice as quickly as possible and have five guys basically in an area where they're all together, offensively or defensively, when the time arises and very active D on the offensive side of things.”
The Blackhawks could get past the too-many scoring opportunities and goals allowed in Game 4 because they won Game 4. But they know they’re playing with fire if it happens again. Either team is, really, considering what the other possesses in offensive firepower. Chances are they won’t be giving each other the chance to display it that much again.