Game 5 between the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN, or you can watch via NBC Live Extra's stream here. And don't forget to flip over to Comcast SportsNet following White Sox-Indians for Blackhawks Postgame Live, which will also be streaming on CSNChicago.com here.
1. Win or tie special teams battle:
Special teams has been huge in the series so far. They have provided timely goals for the Los Angeles Kings, created serious momentum, and helped propel them to three straight wins on the strength of five power play goals with only one against during their current streak. And this doesn’t even include the goal Drew Doughty scored in Game 3, the game-winner, when a Blackhawks penalty had just expired. Obviously the Hawks penalty kill has to be better, and it has to start with not taking needless penalties. When you have to kill a “good penalty”, like preventing a goal or sticking up for a teammate, the killers bear down and make sure they get the offender off the hook. When it’s a dumb or needless penalty, it often becomes a different story. On the other side of the equation, the power play has to simple it up and just get shots through from the point and let your skill take over down low.
2. Play your team speed game.
I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating. The Blackhawks are at their best when they bring their passing game. Tape-to-tape passes where the man receiving the puck does not have to break stride is a sign the Blackhawks have it going on. Give Los Angeles credit for disrupting this part of Chicago's game, but there are some cases where a good pass is simply concentration and execution at high speed. Start making four and five good passes in a row while flying up the ice, and see if these Kings can keep up with you. The puck can move faster than anyone can skate, so start making better passes and improve your speed game.
3. Defense - get defensive:
At the start of this series, I thought one of the advantages the Blackhawks had was on the back end - the defensemen. The way Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya normally play, there aren’t many better Top 4 in the entire NHL. This has not been the case in this series. Turnovers, poor decisions, and poor positioning have really cost the Hawks in their three losses. It seems like 90% of the goals that Los Angeles scores come from a 15-foot radius in front of Corey Crawford. This is D-Man country, and they have to start boxing out and taking care of sticks in front of their goalie.