Although the Sun Times and Chicago Tribune beat writers predict the Blackhawks, Kings series to end in 7 games in the Kings' favor, Friday's Hawks practice may have shown us otherwise.
The lines Q had at the practice can prove to be very effective against a big team with a super human goalie. Q has formed a ‘big’ line (Bickel, Toews, Hossa) to induce Sutter to play his big line. With this strategy, Q is also trying to get Sutter to play his top defensive pairing against this line.
The 2nd line (Sharp, Handzus, Kane) should draw the second defensive pairing. Q is betting on this line to rack up some points although Kane and Sharp were somewhat quiet against the Wings. If they can outsmart and outplay the 2nd defensive pairing and Jonathan Quick, this line can prove to be Quick's kryptonite, at least for Game 1.
The third line looked dominant in Game 7 against the Wings (Saad, Shaw, Stalberg). They have speed and are great fore checkers. This line should be the toughest matchup for Sutter. It should outclass any LA 3rd line and could force Sutter to play his top D pairing against them if productive. Thus giving the Blackhawks 1st line the green light.
Despite Seabs' epic OT game 7-winning goal against the Wings, he and Oduya did have a rough series against Detroit. They need to be better this series as the Kings have an aggressive forecheck they use to force turnovers.
Leddy could be the X factor because he could disturb the forecheck and create odd man rushes with his speed and puck-carrying ability.
If the Hawks can get the PP going, they should win the series. If they don’t, LA will maul them with interference, holding, hooking, etc. because they can't quite keep up with the Hawks and we all saw what Detroit got away with...
The Hawks depth has been their greatest attribute all season long. If they continue to be strong that will be a huge factor in the series. Therefore, if the Hawks play with a sense of urgency, win the faceoff battle, and outskate the Kings (all of which is probable) they will generate plenty of chances against Quick.
If all is right with the hockey gods, the Hawks can take Saturday and Sunday's home games from the Kings and jump ahead with a 2-0 series lead. I predict Q's lines and adjustments will work, and that the Hawks will win the series against the Kings in 6 games.
Let's not forget the momentum they may have from the legendary comeback series they just had with Detroit either...
An entertaining element to look for in this series could be some quality chirpiness between ex-teammates Bolland and Fraser as well.
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