Chicago, IL — As the Chicago Blackhawks enter into round two or the semi finals if you will, they now have a face to go with their opponent. It is a familiar face too. An old nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings is an opponent that can’t be taken lightly. They come in off of an intense series that just highlighted why Detroit has been in the NHL’s post season for the past 22 years.
The Blackhawks should not need to look very far for motivation against the Red Wings. They all know they need to improve the power play and get it going. They could also work on face offs since puck possession will definitely be a key component in this series. They can also work on tightening their gaps, back checking and moving the puck out of their zones quicker.
Those are all the physical hockey parts of the game that they can work on. If those things improve that is great and should help them going forward. However there is a potential more serious problem and foe that faces the Blackhawks as they continue on their journey towards Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The more dangerous foe the Hawks face is the mirror. As they head into each round there is little room for mistakes especially mental mistakes and maybe even more critical a level of desperation that was absent in the first round against the Minnesota Wild.
Call it what you will, intensity, finish to one’s game, closing or killer instinct. The Blackhawks are best when they are on edge and skating with a amped up pace yet with control. If the Hawks need motivation to dislike the Red Wings they need look no farther back than the 2009 playoffs when it was Detroit that bounced the Hawks in five games as they went on to the Stanley Cup Finals. It sure would be nice to return that dismissal from the playoffs.
Both coaches have indicated that it is this hunger if you will that will be the difference in which team continues onto the next round. So far the Blackhawks have not shown this hunger.
Coach Quenneville recently told the local media that more intensity needed “It’s not the regular season. There’s another appetite that we have to get as well. I don’t think we should be happy with where we’re at with our play … and let’s get angry as we go along here.”
It also sounded like coach Q was a little envious of the other series that had ramped up intensity in them like the La Kings vs St. Louis Blues. Needless to say Detroit just completed scratching and clawing their way through their series with Anaheim so they are battle tested and ready.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock said the same thing in his post game press conference in that it is whatever team is hard between the ears that will come out victorious, mental fortitude if you will. The question is can the Hawks muster up that intensity and stay mentally strong.
Of course they can this is the team that won 16 games out of their first 24 win streak by just a one goal differential and 28 of the 48 regular season games were by a one goal difference. Tight games don’t bother the Blackhawks as evidenced by these regular season games. This is the playoffs though not the regular season and everything needs to be done with a little more urgency.
The checks need to be finished, the gaps tighter, the passing crisper, the skating faster, the hitting harder and the shooting sharper. The good thing the Hawks have been here before and they know this. The bad thing, so has Detroit and they practically wrote the book on how to do this. Their survival instincts if not the best in the league are one of the best.
The Blackhawks just need to sharpen their wits, improve their skills and most importantly when there is a chance to finish the Wings in games do it. I know it’s hard not to respect them but do respect them enough to put them out of their misery early and handily. Their time has passed. Smell blood at all times, every shift, every save, every backcheck. Gear up those predatory instincts to satisfy not only the hunger pains but the blood lust crowd that fills the Madhouse.
Next look in the Hunger Games District 313 Detroit – Motor City the traps, the vulnerable terrain and the rough waters that will be faced.
Hungar games written by Suzanne Collins published in 9/2008 Scholastic press publisher.