Chicago, IL – Detroit was once the aluminum jewel in the crown of industry in the United States. Labor, hard work and pride in products manufactured and labeled made in the USA separated Detroit from most other cities. Detroit has always celebrated the unheralded American hero – the worker and the US work force.
Manufacturing and Industry in Detroit may not be what they once were but they still occasionally turn out products that still represent the foundations of their city and it’s ideals. One of those products their hockey team the Detroit Red Wings.
A team filled with cagey veterans and skating skills that few teams can match. Couple all of that with a coach that may just be the best in the NHL and you have a very formidable opponent. Mike Babcock has coached up their young prospects and has them currently in the driver’s seat with a 3-2 series advantage over the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks. Maybe even more important he has them believing they can defeat the best team in the NHL during the regular season.
Chicago is behind but they are not out. Credit Detroit and Coach Babcock with camouflaging their weaknesses. Chicago has regained it’s form with a win in Chicago on Saturday night but still must defeat the Red Wings in Detroit to keep their charmed season alive.
Chicago must play their game and exploit some of Detroit’s weaknesses if they are to come back to Chicago’s United Center for a final game seven in this series. To do this the Blackhawks must keep their power play working like a finely tuned assembly line in Ford plant.
The Red Wings are just average on the penalty kill. They are ranked 13th in playoffs if the Hawks can keep taking advantage of this and scoring or at least gain momentum from their power play it will also accomplish another important task. It will keep Detroit from becoming overly physical for fear of a penalty being called.
The Blackhawks must continue to improve their face off battles. Detroit is 4th in the playoffs and in this series is winning this battle. You don’t need to win them all just the key ones to retain puck possession.
The Detroit Redwings are 10th in the playoffs in goals and shots against per game meaning that they do give up opportunities. Jimmy Howard has been stellar in this series. The Blackhawks just need to keep firing on him and get bodies to the net. They need to work to open lanes as well.
The Red Wings are very good a blocking shots so the Blackhawks will have to work to open lanes for both shooting and passing. Detroit is very good with tightening their defensive games and lanes. They have a young D core that has been coached up but they are still this teams weakness.
The Blackhawks need to confuse their Defense by dumping the puck in and then going on a heavy forecheck for puck retrieval. The team that wins the battles either behind the nets or along the boards will dictate the game and position themselves to win. They need to work like the old Ford plant union workers in a cohesive methodical manner with attention to details.
Detroit will have the final lineup change so look for them to continue to try to put Henrik Zetterberg on Jonathan Toews. If he is being tied up somehow Sharp and Kane or the Hawks Dmen must find the open ice and get shots on Howard.
If the Blackhawks continue with their team game and are able to silence the Joe they will mount all the pressure on the Red Wings. If the Hawks can eliminate mistakes from their game eventually Detroit will crack.
The Hawks took the momentum back Saturday at the united Center they just need to sustain it and keep their mojo. They were the best team in the NHL during the regular season they just need to keep playing their game. In the games they lost in Detroit statistically they were even with the Wings they just made a few mistakes that cost them and Howard stoned everyone but the Hawks were right there.
Patience with the puck and finish your shots, if they don’t go in that’s ok just keep working eventually they will or Detroit will make a mistake. The Hawks have positioned themselves all year to be where they are at, Monday night at Joe Louis Arena they can put all the pressure on Detroit and regain home ice if they win and they can win if they believe.
Here are some words from Detroit’s own modern day poet
“Look if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip? Yo
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, You own it, you better never let it go, You only get one shot do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. You can do anything you set your mind to man.” – Marshall Mathers AKA Eminem Lose Yourself
Image from the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI commissoned mural by Diego Rivera