The Chicago Blackhawks will face a tough test with (insert name here) in goal…
Forgive the Blackhawks if they’ve heard it before. In fact, they’ve heard the “how are you going to beat said goaltender” plenty before. They heard it when they were going to face a then red-hot Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings. They heard it again when facing an even more locked-in Johathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings.
And… well, you know what’s coming: How to beat Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is the latest top goalie that the Blackhawks have to face. Well, they beat the previous two goaltenders by working their tails off, creating traffic, taking advantage of rebound, getting a few bounces to go their way and shooting, shooting and shooting.
So in facing another tough goaltender, the Blackhawks will just plan to do what they did against the other two goaltenders in the hopes of getting the same results.
“Yeah, obviously there's been a lot of talk about Rask and rightfully so. He's played great for them,” Duncan Keith said. “He's a big part of their success. I think we've played some good goalies in previous rounds and we've managed to find ways to score. So hopefully we can do the same (now).”
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Yes, the Blackhawks got their share of goals against Howard and Quick in the previous two rounds. They got 14 goals in five games against Quick, who had given up 13 goals over his nine previous postseason games before the Western Conference Final. Their Game 2 offensive output led to Quick getting pulled, something that hadn’t happened in the playoffs since 2011. The Blackhawks scored 15 goals against Howard in the seven-game series vs. Detroit.
So, even if it takes them a little time to get that traffic going around the goalie and start racking up those goals, bottom line is, they have racked up plenty of them against two damn good netminders.
They’ll need to do that again vs. Rask, who is coming into the Stanley Cup Final one stingy goaltender. Rask and the Bruins allowed just two goals -- two -- in their four-game sweep of the usually goal-proficient Pittsburgh Penguins. Rask enters this final series with a 1.75 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
“It seems like every round we’re talking about how the other guy’s playing, and we can say the same thing for Rask,” Patrick Sharp said. “Whether it’s him making big saves or how well his team’s playing in front of him, it’s going to be tough to get quality scoring chances. When we do, we have to make sure we bury them. It’s the same game plan as every other goalie, whether it’s Howard or Quick: get to the net as best you can and try to beat them.”
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It’s the same game plan against Rask, one of the league’s best goaltenders. Because the game plan has already worked against two of the league’s best goaltenders.