2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs: No need to panic for Chicago despite 2–1 series deficit to St Louis
By Max Templin
When St Louis left winger Jaden Schwartz hammered home a go-ahead goal with 6:50 left in the third period on Sunday, a sweeping hush fell over the capacity crowd at the United Center in Chicago.
In a game where the home squad looked to be in the driver’s seat for most of the first 50 minutes of play, they were quite suddenly looking at a one goal deficit in the late stages of Game 3.
In addition, Blues netminder Brian Elliott had been dominant all afternoon, letting in nothing apart from a masterstroke one timer off the stick of Brent Seabrook and a wacky change-up from Artem Anisimov. To say the least, the situation did not look promising for the defending champions.
Roughly 15 minutes later, Chicago was heading into the locker room trying to digest a bitter defeat and prepare themselves for Game 4. However, after the initial shock of the painful loss had run its course, both the Blackhawks players and fans realized something.
Chicago has been in this situation many times before. And if history tells us anything, it’s that the Hawks play very well when the pressure is on. Think about this for a second.
43–14?? Are you serious? Just to be clear, that is an insane statistic. The Blackhawks have won just over 75% of games 4–7 in the Joel Quenneville era. It’s simple math. In a 7 game series, if you win 75% of the last 4 games, that equates to 3 out of the 4 wins needed to advance. To put it even simpler terms, the Hawks are just absolutely clutch.
It is a veteran squad who has been there and done that. They are led by guys like the captain Jonathan Toews and likely 2016 NHL MVP Patrick Kane, who just never back down from a challenge. Here is a quick snapshot of what those two franchise cornerstones have achieved in high-pressure playoff games.
Does this mean that Blackhawks nation should kick back and expect yet another trip to the conference semifinals? Absolutely not.
The skill of the opposing Blues is undeniable, with guys like Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrik Berglund leading the way. Both have been peppering Corey Crawford’s net with aggressive shot attempts all series. They are relentless, and to put it lightly, they are not very fond of their more successful rivals. After early exits in the last 3 playoffs, including one at the hands of Chicago, revenge is definitely on St Louis’ minds.
Expect a back-and-forth, heart-stopping finish to this series with neither team giving an inch. But if you are a Blackhawks fan, there is definitely good reason to be optimistic. Experience pays off in the quest for the Stanley Cup, and there is no doubt which team leads in that category.
To quote the Fratellis, “Chelsea, Chelsea, I believe!!”
Game 4 of the series will be Tuesday night at 8:30 CT on NBCSN.