Hawks have lost faceoff battles throughout playoffs
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Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Sharp faces off with Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron Saturday in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the United Center in Chicago.
John Starks | Staff Photographer
Losing faceoffs is nothing new for the Blackhawks, who have been doing it throughout the playoffs.
And look where they are.
In 21 games before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, the Hawks had come out on the short end of the faceoff battle 18 times with one 50-50 split against Minnesota.
They lost the faceoff battle in all seven games against Detroit and all five games against Los Angeles, yet managed to win both series. In the first four games of the Finals against Boston, the Hawks lost the faceoff battle in each game.
"It's always an important part of the game and I think it's even more so this time of year," said Jonathan Toews, the only Hawks center to consistently win faceoffs. "You want to play with energy every single shift, especially when you have four lines going. If you have two lines that go out there and play really well and have puck possession in their zone and you get some momentum as a team, the next couple lines want to keep that going.
"Part of keeping that puck possession is winning draws. It's something we've focused on and we were better at it last game."
The Hawks did a lot of video work, watching Bruins such as Patrice Bergeron and what he does to be so successful at winning faceoffs.
"There are little things you can do to get the edge," Toews said. "Part of that is communicating with the linesman, making sure their feet are in the right position and things are fair for both sides. When it comes down to it it's just not the center; his two wingers that need to be ready for it and competitive and hungry to get the puck."
The Hawks won only 29 percent of the faceoffs in their 2-0 loss in Game 3.
"I just think starting with the puck is key," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "When you're at a disadvantage, that big of a variance, you're definitely against it. I think especially in the big faceoffs, the critical ones, especially starting special teams plays are of huge importance."
Have at him:
Some members of the Boston media were still trying on Saturday to make something bigger out of Jonathan Toews' harmless comments about Zdeno Chara. The Hawks captain Thursday said there were certain ways to expose the Bruins captain.
"They're allowed their comments," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "If that's what they think, then they should try it again. A lot of people have tried to figure out Zdeno, and he's the type of player he is. People talk about 5 goals against, but were they all his fault? None of them were his fault, actually.
"It's just one of those situations where we feel he's one of our best players on our team. He's one of the best defensemen in the league, so I don't think there's too many flaws in his game."
Dennis Seidenberg thinks his defense partner likes the challenge of people trying to go after him.
"If it works for them, then they're going to do it," Seidenberg said. "I think Zee likes those situations where he's under pressure, where the guys go at him, playing physically."
Killing them softly:
The 2 power-play goals the Hawks allowed in Game 4 to the Bruins marked the first time since March 10 against Edmonton that they had surrendered that many — a span of 42 games.
After allowing just 3 power-play goals in 58 chances in the first three rounds, the Hawks let the Bruins score four times in the first four games.
"We'll bounce back," Jonathan Toews said. "That's a good team and good power play. Obviously, we want to avoid ever going to the penalty box, but if we need a big kill we're confident we'll come up with it."
Dave Bolland thinks overall the Hawks' penalty killing has been great.
"You have breakdowns, it's going to happen," Bolland said. "We've still stayed strong and we've stuck to our game plan. When we've gotten away from it, we've had some goals against, but those are going to come, and you have to look and see what happened."
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