Larry Everson is ready for Chicago…………..here are his keys to the series…….
Here are the critical keys for Team Teal in this Round:
1. Stay out of the box. We have a great penalty kill but Chicago has a strong power play. Be aggressive, push the perimeter, but keep a close watch on the slot. Watch Baafoon (weird spelling? and my name for him after his taunting of the fans in Vancouver)) in front of Nabby but with the same disciplined strategy we used with Holmstrom. Same act, 30 pounds heavier.
2. Special teams have to be great. The power play must ratchet up to another level. Stats in Rounds 1 and 2 were marginal at 19.2%. And remember 3 of the PP goals came on 5 on 3’s. Moving forward this level of performance won’t get it done. The penalty kill needs to remember the 3 short handed goals the Hawks scored in the 7-2 pasting at the Tank during the regular season. Lawrence and I remember it well as we were at the Tank and watched all 3 up close and personal.
3. Our stars have to play like stars. The 1st line needs to play every game in this series like they did in Games 4 and 6 against Detroit. In addition Joe Thornton can’t continue to make high turnovers. He is -6 in +- over the first 2 rounds. And Nabby needs to further elevate his game. His performance looking back was good enough but will not be good enough looking forward to what it will take to win the next two games. His play in the first 2 rounds was inconsistent. He will also need to make a few big stops on odd man breaks because with Chicago versus our D’s a few of these heart stopping breaks are inevitable.
4. Our D’s need to remain disciplined, stay at home and tend to business in our own end. Chicago is too quick to risk jumping up into plays. Chicago’s 88% PK may have more to do with their short handed scoring threat than their defensive ability. It takes the aggressiveness out of opposing teams. Chicago’s D group as a whole are better than the Sharks D’s (Brian Campbell is only the 3rd ranked D on their team). But while I say this the Chicago D’s have also been inconsistent at times and subject to defensive lapses. These lapses will happen again and we need to find the back of the net when they do.
5. Get into the head of Antti Niemi who is a rookie. This is the 3rd rookie goalie in a row for us. We should have picked up some pointers along the way on how to do this. Run him early at opportune times and lets see how he reacts. Score early and see how he reacts. So far he has been good but not shutdown (Halak) good.
6. Keep a close reign on Toews, Kane and Sharp. They have half of all playoff goals scored for Chicago so far. They moved Baafoon up to the 1st line with Toews and Kane in the last couple of games with Vancouver and it worked really well. Concentrate more on denying Toews and Kane the puck than on Baafoon. But don’t forget about Hossa on the second line. Their 1st 2 lines are dangerous and they can move Sharp around to create matchup problems for us. This is where home ice becomes an advantage with the last change rule.
7. Find a way to win Game One. Score early, score often or score ugly but find a way to win Game One and preferably Game Two. This created a huge advantage with Detroit and in an ideal world we repeat the process again. Chicago is playing really well on the road with 5 wins in 6 games (not to mention again their performance at the Tank during the regular season) and we need to take this advantage away from them starting with Game One.
Written by Larry Everson