Game Seven. Two words that Chicago Blackhawks fans have wanted to hear for nearly a week and now it’s a reality.
The Hawks played their last two games like they truly were their last. The Hawks’ hard work has paid off because now there will be a Game 7 winner take all in Chicago to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for a meeting with the New York Rangers.
Coach Joel Quenneville has switched up the lines and they have produced great results. There is one line that stands above the rest; however, is the Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, and Brandon Saad line. That line put together has a combined 14 points three of which being goals and plus/minus rating of +11. Each player has had their own role on that line leading to their success, and they have been doing so greatly.
The right wing on the line, Patrick Kane, is the superstar that leads this line. Kane or “Mr. Showtime” has 8 goals this postseason, two of them coming in the last two games and he is tied for second this postseason. Kane is that player that every opponent has a target on because he has such great hands and can snipe the puck from nearly anywhere in the offensive zone. Kane had both the first goal for the Hawks and the game winner last night after hitting a scoring slump since game 2. This new line has given Kane new life and a second wind that he will hopefully be able to carry into game 7.
The left wing, Brandon Saad, has four points in the past two games after the addition of Patrick Kane. Saad is that player that normally gets his points more in the form of assists rather than goals. In the past two playoffs for Saad, he has 6 goals and 20 assists. However, five of those goals have come in this postseason alone with two in the last three games. Saad is also a leader in the NHL this postseason in plus/minus numbers with a +10. Saad seemed to struggle in the playoffs in the two before this year, but now it seems that he only needed a great player on the same line as him to take his game to the next level.
Finally, the line has the comeback kid in the dot, the center, Andrew Shaw. Shaw has played four games since his lower-body injury he sustained in game 1 in the series against the Minnesota Wild after a hit by Clayton Stoner. Shaw had zero points and a plus/minus rating of +1 in his first two games back, not necessarily the comeback most Hawks fans expected. After Patrick Kane was added to the line, Shaw has three points and a rating of +3. In the past two games, Shaw has become that pest that Hawks fans know and love, getting up close and personal with Jonathan Quick and getting under the skin of the other Los Angeles Kings players. Shaw has taken back his place camping in front of the net and although he hasn’t netted a goal yet, he has done a great job setting up screens and gathering rebounds for the rest of his team.
Game 7 is just around the corner this Sunday night at the United Center. The Hawks need to keep their momentum if they want to celebrate on their home ice and send the Kings back to Los Angeles without the Clarence Campbell bowl and make their Stanley Cup run merely a pipe dream. It’s all on the line here, and these two teams are evenly matched meaning the one that comes out with the most heart and plays game 7 like a game 7 will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.