In Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks need to play the same game they played in Game 5 and the same game they played in Game 4.
No different -- no different offensively, no different defensively. On the offensive end, the hunger they've shown and the willingness to compete they've shown against the Boston Bruins has been remarkable.
You can pick any example from Jonathan Toews, but more importantly it is Bryan Bickell on that line doing exactly what he was doing before the start of this series. That opens things up. I call Bickell a space creator because he opens things up for Patrick Kane and for Toews to be able to make plays.
More often than that, if you look at the goals that line has scored in the past two games, Bickell will be there first and then Kane will follow, or vice versa. My point is, the Blackhawks are getting layered screens and layered traffic in front of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
I don't care who the goalie is -- that is a difficult way for them to play. It is a difficult way to try and make saves. As a result, the Blackhawks are using the points more and they are getting extended zone time. That makes Rask have to work a lot harder and the Boston defenders have to work a lot harder.
By getting that extended zone time, it forces Boston to expend a lot of energy. Typically, the Bruins won't have the puck as much because of this, as well.
Another thing the Blackhawks have done well of late is changing the point of attack. What I mean is they don't just come in on one wing and try to make one play. The puck is going all over the place.
As I like to say, the Blackhawks are using the entire 200-by-85 foot surface to make plays. That makes it very difficult for the defending team, because they have to be constantly changing their defensive positioning.
Motion creates confusion, and Chicago has come into the offensive zone the past couple of games with all sorts of motion. It has created plenty of confusion.
If the puck enters on the right side and it ends up on the left, then the center, behind the net, then a diagonal pass and back to the blue line -- it all just forces Boston defenders to have to keep up and then continue repositioning themselves. It also forces Rask to have to work a lot harder.
I can tell you as a goalie, if you have to go from point A to B to C to D to E before even having to make a save, you feel like you’re on a penalty kill. It is the same thing with the skaters -- they feel like they are burning so much extra energy.
It is nice to be able to go from Spot A to Spot B and then be set and be able to make a save. That's a much easier game to play. So more of the same for the Blackhawks where those things are concerned.
The Blackhawks' defense did a fantastic job -- even though Corey Crawford made three or four fantastic saves in the first period of Game 5 -- being all around the goalie. They had nice perimeters around Crawford, angling off the Boston forwards and letting Crawford make a good save and be able to stay with it, gather himself and swallow up the puck. It was a very different game than the one Rask was forced to play.
One last thing: Chicago's speed. If Chicago can play fast, odds are the Blackhawks are going to win. If Boston can slow it down -- and not to say Boston is a slow team, but if they can slow the game down, be sound defensively and use the energy from their fans and strong defense to generate offense, then odds are Boston is going to win.