The Blackhawks woke up in Game 5, survived elimination and finally played like the record-setting team we thought they were. If the Red Wings fail to seal the deal at home in Game 6, it’s unlikely that they win a second consecutive Game 7 on the road.
The Blackhawks can win because…
They’ve finally woken up. The Blackhawks finally put together a complete effort in Game 5 and it’s no surprise that they throttled the Red Wings 4-1. They got their power play going, they crashed the net, they played with intensity and got some production out of Jonathan Toews. If those factors continue in Game 6, people making their NHL picks should expect the Blackhawks to cruise.
The key for getting the party started will be Toews. He set the tone in Game 6 and also finally scored his first goal of the playoffs. The Blackhawks need their captain to lead the way to another win.
The Red Wings can win because…
They know exactly what they have to do. The Red Wings have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde in this series, as they’ve now lost twice by an equal 4-1 count, yet outscored the Blackhawks 9-2 in their three wings.
The Red Wings can win because Jimmy Howard has outplayed Corey Crawford in this series. Even though he gave up four goals in Game 6, he was outstanding in net. If the Red Wings can just clean up some of the mistakes in their back end and stuff the Blackhawks power play as they did in Games 2, 3 and 4, they’ll be in great shape.
The NHL odds makers know that this is a team with plenty of veteran presence. The magnitude of the moment will not get lost on them and they’ll play like this is their Game 7.
Outlook & Pick
It’s a bit of a tough spot to be a handicapper. The Blackhawks were desperate in Game 5 and finally showed up. Will that carry over into Game 6 or will we see the same lackadaisical team that slept-walked through Games 2, 3 and 4?
I think the Blackhawks probably win but why not take the under? There’s a total of five on the board but we haven’t seen more than five goals in any game in this series (under is 2-0-3). Both goaltenders will have to be sharp, so I expect them to lead the way to another tight, low-scoring affair.