Anticipating tomorrow night's game against the Red Wings at the United Center, I'm reminded of the final lines from the epic 1995 film, Braveheart:
"Patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields of Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like scotsmen . . . and won their freedom."
I'm officially setting aside my cynicism and realism for two days. The Blackhawks are about the play the Red Wings for the fifth time this season, against whom they are 4-0 this season. Somehow, even on the horrible Alpo Suhonen and Trent Yawney teams, the Blackhawks have always mustered an amazing effort against the Red Menace from the East.
I believe, in spite of the losing streak and all the injuries, the Hawks will win. Well, the game, not so much 'their freedom.'
They have a certain mojo against the Wings. I'm not sure, in spite of their immense talent, how mentally tough the Wings are. Their underperformance in recent playoff series after brilliant regular seasons is testament to that. And even the most ardent Wings fans admit that they have trouble with teams who can skate with them and outhit them. Like the Hawks.
In spite of the patchwork line-up, the Hawks played more than well enough to beat Anaheim last night. Yes, the defensive breakdowns are still there. But they skated hard, generated chances and hit a lot of posts and crossbars.
Bob Lang will have an extra jump in his step. It's Mike Babcock.
Sopel could be back. Williams could be back.
Punish their defense like they punished Anaheim's last night. This young Hawk team can skate and hit and they have tons of energy. Detroit's offense starts with their defense (as it does with most good puck possession clubs). Hammer the puck deep then hammer their defense.
Play Byfuglien at forward. Especially if Sopel's back. He creates so many problems in the opposing team's zone and he will get under the skin of the Detroit defense with his forecheck.
Be responsible defensively. But remember, Detroit's an attacking club; look for long breakout passes going back the other way.
Brent Seabrook, your job is to punish Tomas Holmstrom mercilessly if he gets near the Hawks crease. Cam Barker, same to you.
Patrick Sharp, one of your patented shorties wouldn't hurt either.
"All men die . . . not every man really lives."
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