The Red Wings will be facing off against the Blackhawks tonight in game 5 of this best of seven Western Conference Semifinals series. The game is scheduled to begin at 8:00 (EST) and will be televised on NBC.
The Blackhawks find themselves in an unfamiliar territory, which is on the brink of elimination against a RedWings team who has all the momentum on their side. So this game 5 matchup is a “must-win” to say the least if the Blackhawks look to continue to what seemed to be a picture perfect season.
The Blackhawks began the year with the longest point streak in NHL history, scoring a point in each of their first 24 games in the season. They also had a 30 game point streak going on that dated back to last season, which was the second longest point streak in NHL history behind the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers who went 35 straight games with scoring a point. They were also the winners of the President’s Trophy in 2013, finishing this shortened NHL season with 77 points in 48 games, 11 points ahead of second place Anaheim. People all over the sports world were calling this 2013 Blackhawks team a dynasty, and also the best team the NHL has seen for years.
But just in case you didn’t know, all dynasties must come to an end, and the Detroit RedWings are proving that all that “greatest team of all-time” talk was premature.
After getting beat down in all four games during the regular season versus the Blackhawks and in the first game of this conference semifinals series, the RedWings have now taken three straight games from Chicago and are just a win away from advancing to the western conference finals. To say Detroit has “owned” the Blackhawks these last three games is an understatement.
The RedWings have outscored the Blackhawks 9-2 in the past three games, as 29 year-old RedWings goaltender Jimmy Howard has stopped 86 of 88 shots over the past three games for a sparkling .977 save percentage. If the season were to end today, I believe Howard would be the playoffs MVP not only for the RedWings team, but for the whole league.
I mean how can you argue with all Howard has done for Detroit as of late? Whenever they needed him the most, he has put his team on his back. And with a win tonight he will be putting his team in the western finals, when just a month ago he was struggling to put his team in the playoffs.
It’s crazy what a month can do for a player, for a team, heck even for a city. Just a month back Detroit fans were coming to a sense that this team was not your ordinary RedWings team which would dominate during the regular season and then keep the momentum throughout the playoffs. No not this year, as they literally clinched a playoff spot in the last game of the regular season. But after beating the number 2 seeded Anaheim in a game 7 at their place, and now going up 3-1 versus a 1 seeded Chicago team, the RedWings have their fans believing again, and it feels better than usual because they don’t have much to lose.
So in this game 5 I expect Chicago to play with all the pride and energy they have left from what has not already been taken away from them by Detroit in this series. I have to admit I didn’t even expect this series to turn out the way that it has, but that should tell you how resilient all Detroit RedWings teams can be. Expect an exciting game at the United Center in Chicago, as I believe the home team will win this game in a final score of 3-1 to send it back to Detroit. Just all-around too much talent from Chicago’s end, and I find it hard for any team to win four straight against this Blackhawks team. Although if I have learned one thing from watching the NHL playoffs, is that the team that wins a series is not usually the team that looks the best on paper, but is the team with the most momentum. And that M-word I just mentioned definitely favors Detroit.
So enjoy hockey fans!