Game 4 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final must be approached like a must-win for the Chicago Blackhawks.
When you are desperate, you have to do different things and you have to do more of the good things. For the Blackhawks, the first thing I'd say is they need to have 40-50 shots Wednesday at TD Garden on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. They can't necessarily be worried about shot quality.
They might not get the ideal shots they want in terms of quality per se, but they need volume shots, shots from every angle, shots from the goal line, sharp angles -- put everything at the net.
You might not get the shot selection you want. You might not get the shot placement that you want. If you're a guy who likes to go high blocker, you might not have the luxury or the time and space to go with that shot selection. The Blackhawks need to get into the mentality of peppering Rask first and foremost right off the top.
Another important thing for the Blackhawks is they have to play fast. They haven't played nearly fast enough, and all due respect to what Boston has done in the neutral zone, but I think overall Chicago hasn't done a near good enough job, certainly in the last game, of generating any speed.
With a team like Chicago, that is inexcusable. They have enough team speed. They move the puck well enough. There is more than enough hockey sense on that team to at least get out of their zone and get some entries, get into the Boston zone with speed.
They might not get a lot of looks off the rush. Patrick Kane had one last game but wasn't able to convert. At least use your speed to gain an entry and then go from there.
Another thing about playing with speed is moving the puck quickly, too. This is the Stanley Cup Final. You've got to have good puck movement. When you dump the puck off too many times, you allow Boston to set up the back pressure that they have. Once their guys get into position defensively and they get their structure, it is going to be difficult to make plays.
One way to combat that is to move the puck quickly, decisively and as soon as possible.
Lastly for the Blackhawks, they have to get to the net. Zdeno Chara is 6-foot-9 every day of his life. He doesn’t go from 6-foot-9 to 5-foot-5. What I mean by that, a lot of people are saying, "Oh, they can't get to the net." Well, get to the net and if he's there then that's a double screen in front of Tuukka Rask.
Chicago has to go to the net on every guy. Go to the net on Johnny Boychuk. Go to the net on Adam McQuaid. Now Rask is going to have to see through two guys instead of not having to see through you because the Boston defenseman boxed you out or angled you out and made you a non-factor.
Make it a point to get to the spot first, and if he is trying to budge you, then Rask has to try to see around him and you. If there is Chara and Dennis Seidenberg and a couple of Blackhawks in front of him, that could become difficult for Rask to see.
I think the best example of that is the Game 1-winning goal by Andrew Shaw. There were a lot of great things that the Blackhawks did on that play -- a lot of good elements on that play.
Bryan Bickell is a guy who had a lot of success before this series. Up until this round, he's had an amazing playoffs. We haven't seen much of him this round. He needs to step up and establish a net-front presence. He needs to continue to be the Dustin Byfuglien of this season's playoffs, just as Big Buff was for this team in 2010 when they won the Stanley Cup. If Bickell can start to do that again in this series and the rest of the guys can follow suit, that would give the Blackhawks a much better chance of winning.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a talented team -- Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri had a great year. All due respect to the Leafs, but they scored 18 goals against the Bruins. People will say the Bruins weren't playing as well then, but the goals count the same.
I have a hard time believing the Maple Leafs are going to outscore the Blackhawks, given their talent, skill level, depth, hockey IQ and skill on the back end.
There are no excuses for the Blackhawks not to be challenging for at least that many goals against the Bruins.
Then, for the Boston Bruins, more of the same. That's all I have to say on them -- more of the same.
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