BLACKHAWKS at RED WINGS
(Detroit leads best-of-7 series, 2-1)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks have rarely, if at all, dealt with any adversity this season --until now. Faced with the prospect of coming home down 3-1 in a Western Conference Semifinal series against one of their archrivals would not be a good situation for the Presidents' Trophy winners. The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, appear to be enjoying life on the other side of the coin. Usually they're the ones cast in the favorite role with an upstart, scrappy bunch of talented underdogs in the locker room down the hall. This time, the shoe is on the other foot and Detroit is finding out that it’s a nice fit. The Red Wings could really take this series by the shirt collar with another win.
Blackhawks: It wouldn't be the same as falling behind 3-0, but that's the way Chicago is approaching the fourth contest in this series. Lose it and the Blackhawks come back home down 3-1 with the possibility of being knocked out in front of their own fans on Saturday night. Win it and come back home to United Center tied 2-2 with two of the three remaining games on home ice. Finding a way to put pucks past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard is the foremost concern, after scoring just two combined goals in back-to-back losses.
"We need to score," forward Viktor Stalberg said. "That's the main thing, to be honest. We can't score two goals in two games and expect to win. We've got to be better. We've got to work harder to get those bounces. We feel like if we keep working, we're going to turn it around."
Red Wings: Fans, players and coaches of Detroit used to always have the same complaint whenever their highly-skilled team would run up against a defense-oriented bunch intent on clogging up the neutral zone, slowing the Red Wings down and beating them up with hard hacks and whacks -- during play and after the whistle. Now it's their turn to do the same, only they're still loaded with highly-skilled players that can make you pay offensively. Detroit is patrolling the neutral zone aggressively, stopping the Blackhawks before their rush game gets really cranked up and keeping Chicago's shooters to the outside for the most part. Don't plan on the Red Wings changing that strategy, either.
"We're just worried about what we're going through and making it as hard as we possibly can on [Chicago]," coach Mike Babcock said. "We got enough to do to keep our group focused and understanding how important the game is. In the playoffs, it's all about the next game. During the year it is, too, but the playoffs are really about that."Who's hot: Chicago's Patrick Kane has scored goals in back-to-back games. ... Gustav Nyquist continues to showcase the skill and athleticism that drew raves from Detroit's coaches and front office during training camp prior to the 2011-12 season. His goal in the second period of Game 3 gave Detroit a 1-0 lead and completely flipped momentum, leading to a quick second goal by Drew Miller.
Injury report: Chicago reports no injuries. ... Mikael Samuelsson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury for the Red Wings, who are also without regular third-line center Darren Helm (back) and rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser (fractured hand) for the series.