San Jose's "Hitch":
Smother the Blackhawks with checking, create turnovers. First shift:
"San Jose has had no room to make plays or get the puck into the zone during the first two games. San Jose has to do the same thing to Chicago.
"The Sharks have the ability to smother the other team with their checking, just like they did versus Detroit. They are big and can create turnovers and frustration among the Blackhawks. Whatever Chicago is doing to you, return it, take it right back to them. If one team is capable of doing that, it's San Jose." Coach's eye for details:
Chicago is coming home after an extended road trip. That causes distractions and loss of energy. San Jose has to notice if Chicago is playing a different way and pounce on it.
San Jose has the speed and tenacity to match Chicago's. They can certainly go hard to the puck. They need to be sure to do that Friday night, right from the opening faceoff. Final period:
"Goaltending will be highly critical in the first period of Game 3. Chicago will be coming hard, riding the emotion and urgency of the crowd at the United Center. [Evgeni] Nabokov is going to need to stand up to it."Chicago's "Hitch":
Get the puck deep into the San Jose zone. Don't force the offense. First shift:
"Big thing is the Blackhawks are coming home to face a sense of urgency from their fans. It will cause the team to be hungry to put the pedal down and force the issue, as if they have to win the game in the first period.
"Chicago has not played high-risk hockey so far in this series, they are not forcing it. They are getting the puck deep in the [San Jose] zone and playing with precision. They are playing smart hockey. They can't let the home crowd change that. Their challenge is not trying to hit the home run."Coach's eye for details:
is the quarterback of this team. He is playing with such high skills and tenacity. There is a sincerity to his play."
The Blackhawks are using the lessons they learned against Detroit from last year's conference final: "Boy, if you watched how Detroit turned it up against Chicago last year, you realize the Blackhawks did exactly the same thing in the first two games against San Jose." Final period:
"Chicago has managed the tempo in this series so far -- not with puck movement but with its checking."
Author: Ken Hitchcock | NHL.com Correspondent