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Farrish: Fatigue a factor for Blackhawks defensemen

by Dan Rosen

For additional insight into the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup Final, has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.

Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games in seven seasons in the NHL.

In putting the Stanley Cup Final into context through four games, former NHL assistant coach Dave Farrish said he thinks the Chicago Blackhawks should feel fortunate to be tied in the series going into Game 5 on Saturday at Amalie Arena (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I would say Chicago survived [to win Game 4]," Farrish said of the Blackhawks 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday at United Center that evened the best-of-7 series at 2-2. "Really they were fortunate to win that one. I think they owe [goalie] Corey Crawford a lot after that one. He certainly won that one for them."

Farrish said he is wondering if Chicago will need more of that from Crawford, who made 24 saves in Game 4, including four in the final two minutes of the third period, because Farrish has noticed the Blackhawks' defensemen wearing down to the point where they are not nearly as effective as they typically are in pinching in to aid in the forecheck.

Farrish said this was particularly evident in the first period of Game 4, when the Lightning held the Blackhawks to two shots on goal.

Chicago has been relying primarily on four defensemen for the past 11 games, since Michal Rozsival sustained a season-ending injury in Game 4 of the second round against the Minnesota Wild. The Lightning are playing with six and sometimes seven defensemen.

Farrish said the fact that the Lightning's defensemen are fresher means they are better-equipped to assist the forwards on the forecheck with deep pinches.

"I don't think Chicago is doing that as much because I have a feeling their defensemen are kind of conserving their energy and they're not so committed to adding to the forecheck by pinching," Farrish said. "It takes a lot of energy to have to do that. You have to get up the ice in a hurry. Sometimes you get caught and it's a hard backcheck coming back. They're not as aggressive and that's obviously why Tampa had so much success in the first period. They wouldn't let them out of their zone.

"Chicago's 'D' needs to have cleaner breakouts, but last game they struggled with their passing and looked tired. You can't generate offense that way."

Farrish, though, said he thinks the Blackhawks will be re-energized come Saturday because of the extra day off between games.

He also said he thinks the extra day off could help Lightning goalie Ben Bishop come back in the series, but that's in question now because he did not practice Friday and coach Jon Cooper said he isn't sure if Bishop will be able to play in Game 5.

If Bishop can't play, Andrei Vasilevskiy will again start. He made 17 saves in Game 4.

"If the Lightning had of gotten the lead [in Game 4] it would have been really tough for Chicago to come back, but I'm guessing that Chicago feels pretty lucky right now, pretty happy with the situation," Farrish said. "Their experience should help them now. Tampa might have more energy left and their players are less taxed, but it should be a great finish."


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