Game 6 between the Blackhawks and Wild begins at 8 p.m. on CNBC, or you can watch via NBC Live Extra's live stream here. And don't forget to flip over to Comcast SportsNet after the game for Blackhawks Postgame Live, which will also be streaming on CSNChicago.com here.
1. Stay physical. Let’s face it, the Blackhawks are not an overly physical team. They are a highly skilled, puck-possession team that has the puck more than it doesn’t. That’s not to say they can’t be engaged when they don’t control the biscuit. I thought a big difference in the second and third periods of Game 5 compared to the first was their willingness to get on the body and finish checks. Minnesota’s Matt Cooke was a non-factor after having been the best player on the ice in Game 4 because Sheldon Brookbank and Bryan Bickell got in his face. How about Patrick Kane finishing his check on a much bigger Mikko Koivu? And let’s not forget about Jonathan Toews pile driving Mikael Granlund to the ice just seconds prior to his game-winning goal. Finishing checks gets you pumped, and it raises the energy on the bench too. When guys see guys like Kane and Toews getting on the body, it lights a fire and gets you energized.
2. Shoot first, ask questions later. Loved how the Blackhawks started the second period on Sunday night. After managing just six shots in the first, they put seven shots on net in the first five minutes of the second. No shot was a bad shot, especially the way Ilya Bryzgalov was playing. He looked uncomfortable at times, and the more rubber thrown his way, the more difficult his job becomes. In the first four games of this series the Wild had limited the Hawks to 22 shots or fewer. That is well below the Blackhawks' season average of 33 shots per game. Pucks and bodies to the net whenever you get a chance.
3. Weather an early Minnesota storm. Both of these teams have been perfect at home. The Hawks are 6-0, and the Wild 5-0 when skating in their friendly confines. The Xcel Energy Center is as loud as it’s been since the Wild joined the NHL back in 2000. Scoring first is still very important in this series, and in fact, the last game in Chicago was the first time in the second round of these Stanley Cup Playoffs (19 games) that the team that scored first did not win. Use your team speed, passing and skating to get pucks deep and get them back. And get ready to hit or be hit. These pesky Wild are not going to go away quietly.