Friday, June 21, 2013

The Blackhawks tie the series with Game 4 win

The Chicago Blackhawks took back the ice Wednesday night, winning Game 4 to tie the series 2-2 against the Boston Bruins.  The Blackhawks needed to split the games in Boston in order to keep their playoff dreams alive and they got it done in a thrilling see-saw 6-5 win in over time. After being shut out in Game 3, the Blackhawks came back to score 6 amazing goals on the previous stonewall goaltender, Tuukka Rask, who stayed in goal the entire game for the Bruins. The Bruins were uncharacteristically loose and Rask was not his normal self in goal. Bruins coach Claude Julien said, "It was certainly a tough outing for us tonight." At the other end of the ice for the Blackhawks Corey Crawford in goal, said, “It was a pretty crazy hockey game.” The Bruins have successfully exploited Crawford’s weak glove side, scoring goals on that side during all four games, which especially helped to keep the Bruins alive during Game 4.  Crawford’s inability to stop anything on his glove side is worrisome going into the end of the series; it is really going to force Chicago to be strong offensively.  Although the numbers are stacked against Crawford and he notices the target on his glove side, he is a mentally tough player so don’t expect to see this affect his game.  Crawford’s glove side has been targeted numerous times in the postseason: the Red Wings were able to beat him five times to the glove side, where as the L.A Kings were not during the Western Conference finals.  Crawford faced some crazy goals during Game 4: the first goal from Patrice Bergeron that bounced off of the top of the net out of sight for Crawford then landing right in front and Johnny Boychuk’s blast from the point.  
Game 4 appeared to be a continuation of the strong first period the Blackhawks had during Game 2 but this time they continued their push through the entire 60 plus minutes into over time.  Although the Blackhawks lost the lead several times there was a determined team on the ice and they kept challenging Rask and the Bruins. Their first goal was luck, bouncing in off the goal post but the goals that followed showed skill and strategy, as they creatively beat Rask in the net. The Blackhawks had a short handed goal for the first time in 129 minutes of play, hopefully ending their power play woes. The Bruins were playing on their heels, always a few strides behind the Blackhawks.   During the second period, there was a combination of 5 goals scored.  The combination of Toews and Kane paid off for the Blackhawks as they scored goals 2:08 minutes apart claiming a 3-1 lead for the Blackhawks.  Lucic cut the lead in half, shooting the puck past Chara for a score, 3-2. Then 49 seconds later Kruger restored the two goals lead for the Blackhawks.  Bergeron came through at the end of the second period with a set of goals for the Bruins and rallied to tie the Blackhawks 4-4.  The Bruins had been solid on the penalty kill, not allowing a goal since the second round but Sharp ended that with a goal, taking the lead 5-4. The last goal during regulation came from Boychuk to tie the game 5-5, sending the game into over time for the 3rd time during this series. The Blackhawks ended the game during overtime with a slap shot from Seabrook to clinch the 6-5 win, tying the series 2-2.
The uncharacteristic play from the Bruins and the strong consistent push from the Blackhawks during Game 4 gives this series an unpredictable future. Will the Blackhawks continue with their depth and rally for comebacks? And, will the Bruins tighten up their game or will they continue to play a loose game? During Game 4, the Blackhawks figured out how to score on Rask, through rebounds and bodies at the net, while the Bruins continued to target the weak glove side of Crawford.  All questions will be answered by the Blackhawks and the Bruins on Saturday when they meet in Chicago for Game 5 to break the series tie.  

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