Game 6 between the Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings begins at 8 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-Padres for Blackhawks Postgame Live, which will also be streaming on CSNChicago.com here.
1. Bring your passing game - again:
The Blackhawks did a much better job of moving the puck in Game 5 at the United Center. This was definitely a problem in Games 3 and 4 at the Staples Center where they will play a pivotal Game 6 Friday night. The passes were crisp and on target as they escaped their own zone with confident breakout passes. At the other end of the ice, the offensive zone passing was of the tape-to-tape variety which gave the puck handler just that split second of extra time to make the right play. When you don’t have to fumble to recover an errant pass, you create that double-edged advantage of time and space. Good passing increases your team speed, and that’s how the Blackhawks backed off the Kings for a good portion of Game 5.
2. Special teams win means playoff win:
Look at every game thus far in this fantastic Western Conference Final, and the team that has won the special teams battle has gone on to win the game. The leader in goals scored on the power play, minus goals scored against on the penalty kill has gone on to win each contest. No surprises here, as special teams create momentum and help decide close games. It’s no coincidence that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each had assists on Brent Seabrook's power play goal just 1:13 into Game 5, and both went on to have strong performances. When your best players feel good about themselves, especially early, it’s normally a sign they will go on to have good games.
3. It’s win or leave the dance:
Sometimes stark reality can be a great motivator. It’s win tonight and extend your season with Game 7 on home ice or lose and put an end to a pretty special year. Putting it in that perspective really sharpens your focus and becomes a source for inspiration. You also have an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in the NHL in 16 years, and that is win back-to-back Stanley Cups. If you want to dig a little deeper, imagine the punch to the gut that the Kings would feel having failed in two opportunities to close out the Hawks with a loss tonight. They would then have to travel 1800 needless miles because they would have started at home against the New York Rangers with a close out win. I think there will be a lot of pressure on the Kings to win this game, and the Blackhawks can really turn up the heat with a great first period.