1. Good Passing beats a trap. Not a very exciting game last Tuesday night for the Blackhawks. There weren’t a lot of good hockey plays by either side, especially through the neutral zone, and at times the game slowed down to a crawl. Expect the same tonight, where the Wild don’t want to get into a track meet and exchange chances with the Hawks. One way to beat the trap, or “neutral zone clog”, is to pass from boards to boards, stretching the ice side to side. Typically traps are overloads, and when you can spread the ice in an East/West fashion, you’ll create more room and be able to attack with a little more speed. It requires good passing, and good spacing among your teammates, and everyone has to be on the same page.
2. Score that first goal. Blackhawks are a perfect 6-0 in these playoffs when scoring the first goal. Counting the regular season, they are an amazing 40-2-7 when they put up the games first goal. Scoring first gives you momentum, confidence, and a little cushion knowing that the other team has to press in order to tie it up. This becomes a great situation for the Hawks, waiting for teams to open up and take some chances. Score that first goal and ride the wave of confidence.
3. Waiting for the “Sharpshooter.” Patrick Sharp is a pure sniper when he has the puck, hence his fitting nickname. It’s been a bit of a different story in the playoffs so far for number 10. Sharpie has just one goal, and it came on a breakaway against St. Louis in which he was hooked and lost the puck, but it still went in. In the nine games he has played this post season, he has had 31 shots. He’s getting his looks, now he needs to find the back of the net. Sharp is due, and he remembers that he scored five goals against these same Minnesota Wild in the final four games of last years playoff series. That’s positive history.