By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) — The playoffs are finally upon us, and while many are writing off the St. Louis Blues, it’s important to remember that they were the best team in the NHL for about 90 percent of the season.
I do believe the Blackhawks will win the series in six games, and winning Game 1 would be a huge step in completing that task.
Here are my keys to a Blackhawks victory :
Weather the Storm: The Blues are playing with huge expectations and with a chip on their shoulder. The first 10 minutes of this game could be critical. Expect the Blues to come out looking to hit everything in a white sweater and to storm the crease. The Hawks will need to hold the Blues off their initial surge.
Power Play: The Blues are going to present several powerplay opportunities in this series. If the Hawks want the Blues to dial back the physicality, they need to play with a lead. That will force the Blues to change their approach and focus on getting back in the game. The ice will open up, and that plays directly into the hands of the skilled and speedy Blackhawks.
Resist the Urge: St. Louis loves taking liberties after the whistle and targeting the opponent’s star players. The Hawks need to play through it and play their game. I know this sounds generic as hell, but the Hawks are not going to win this series if it becomes a brawl. The Hawks are at their best when they’re controlling the puck not punching the opposition.
Keep It Simple: When the Hawks look their worst, they’re typically still controlling the puck, but passing up scoring opportunities. The extra passes and the quest for highlight reel goals are a great way to get knocked out of the playoffs. Pucks on net, traffic in front. It’s a simple concept to which the Hawks refuse to adhere.
Scoring Depth: While Joel Quenneville has declared Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews “100 percent” it’d be foolish to expect them to play at their top level in the first couple of games. The Hawks will need second-tier players like Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad to contribute. offensively.
Follow me on Twitter, @JayZawaski670. I’ll be Tweeting throughout the entire game.