BOSTON – Uncomfortable. Unnerving. Frustrating. Are these the feelings of the Chicago Blackhawks today as they face a very important Game 4 tonight?
I believe it is fair to say that the Bruins make all their opponents feel very uncomfortable with their heavy game along the boards and great fore-checking in the opponent’s defensive zone. Not to mention, a 6’9”, 255 pound behemoth on the back end whose stick is longer than most players.
Unnerving would accurately describe the feeling of the Hawks when it comes to their power play performance thus far in the Finals. The numbers are ugly, but it almost seems that the Bruins know what they are going to do before the Hawks do. The Hawks have struck out on their 11 opportunities thus far in this series and you have to go back to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals to find their last tally. The Bruins don’t even seem like they are down a man in those critical situations, beating the Hawks to the puck and anticipating their every move. The Bruins have killed 27 straight penalties.
The last eight games that Tuukka Rask has played, he has a GAA of 0.57 and a save percentage of .980. That would frustrate any team. When the Hawks do make plays and unleash quality chances, there is Rask to stir it aside safely with no rebound opportunities. It has to be maddening for the Blackhawks and their top players.
Chicago has not been able to gain clean entry into the Bruins defensive zone for the most part. There is little time and space in the neutral zone and plays have to happen quickly. The Hawks need to find their game tonight or risk being down three games to one again, like they were against the Detroit Red Wings.
Faceoff’s are another sore spot in regards to the Hawks. The Bruins completely dominated the faceoff circles and they have Chicago coaches studying film to try and figure out how to neutralize this disadvantage.
Chicago needs to turn the tables on the Bruins and try something new because this series will be over if they continue to play the same way. Roughing it up will only agitate the bear, so perhaps switching lines or a new formation on the power play. Something needs to happen tonight for the Hawks.