Just when you think you might have this Stanley Cup Final series figured out, when it looked like the Bruins’ defense was tightening its grip on the matchup, Wednesday night brought the return of Chicago’s end-to-end speed demon style of play and the ability to score at will.
Brent Seabrook was one of six different Blackhawks to score and his tally with 9:51 gone in the first overtime of Game 4 gave Chicago a 6-5 win that evened the series at 2-2. After being held to just one goal in Games 2 and 3 combined, the Blackhawks offense resurfaced — they recorded a power play goal for the first time in the series and Jonathan Toews also got on the board, snapping a 10-game drought for his second goal of the postseason — to crack Boston netminder Tuukka Rask and ensure that this final will not be resolved quickly.
Afterward the Blackhawks criticized their inability to hold on to a lead (they never trailed, but couldn’t keep Boston from climbing back in the game time and time again), but winning in that fashion certainly offered a boost.
“Obviously we like when we’re playing with speed, trying to play a puck-possession game, get down low, create chances. That’s when we’re playing at our best,” Seabrook told reporters following Game 4. “We’ve got to be prepared to win a game 1-0 or 2-1. That’s what it’s got to come down to.Boston is a great team. They play a solid style of play. We’re going to have to shore up our D zone and be better at that.”
Game 4 highlights:
>> From ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, reuniting Toews and Patrick Kane on a line with playoff breakout star Bryan Bickell helped fuel the return of Chicago’s fire wagon hockey.
The Blackhawks aren’t going to win the Stanley Cup by trying to play Bruins hockey. No, the Hawks can only pull it off playing their speed-stretch pass-attack game.
“I think that’s how our team is built,” Hawks star Patrick Sharp said, agreeing with the thought. “We’ve got four lines that can score, we’ve got four lines that can skate, we’ve got a mobile defense; we’re not saying we want to open the flood gates and just trade chances, but I think when we play that attack game and that confident style, we can be a successful team.”
>> From the Boston Globe: For as much as Game 4 marked a return for the Blackhawks to their style of play, it forced Boston out of its defensive comfort zone. The Bruins want to get back to that, rather than try and trade chances with a much speedier Chicago squad.
>> The league’s general managers met Wednesday in Boston and approved the series of changes proposed by the NHL’s competition committee earlier this month, including grandfathering in visors, shallower nets and hybrid icing. All of these alterations still must be approved by the Board of Governors on June 27 before they go into effect but this latest step illuminated some of the issues that remain to be sorted out.
- It’s still unclear exactly how hybrid icing will be called, but the plan remains to try it out during the preseason and it could be adopted for the regular season.
- How mandatory visors will shape fighting in hockey remains to be seen, but according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun the general managers approved a new minor penalty for those who remove their helmet before a fight. If approved, those that drop the gloves would be looking at a 5 minute major for fighting and potentially a 2 minute minor if they remove their helmet.
>> Any time the general managers gather in one place, trade talks aren’t far behind and with just more than a week to go before the NHL Draft, usually a site of early-summer wheeling and dealing for those looking to make changes before the start of free agency, this is no exception. Where will goalie Jonathan Bernier wind up? Will Pittsburgh trade Kris Letang?
>> Also of note is a report by the Denver Post that the Avalanche, who have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, are planning to pass on defenseman Seth Jones in favor of a forward.