CHICAGO – Jonathan Toews is going to play his usual minutes. Corey Crawford will be in goal. The lines will look largely the same.
Dont expect any major changes for the Chicago Blackhawks when they try to extend their season in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series against Detroit tonight.
After three consecutive losses to the rolling Red Wings, Toews and Co. think they are close to a breakthrough.
The guys are very confident that were very close to finding a way to win one game, and when we do that we know all that confidence, the momentum is going to come rushing back, and thats what were focused on, Toews said. Its the only thing we can worry about.
Its quite the change from the end of the regular season, when the Red Wings won their last four games to secure a spot in the postseason.
Then they were down 3-2 in the first round against Anaheim before taking the last two to advance, including a road victory in Game 7.
Now theyre in complete control against the top-seeded Blackhawks and eager to deliver a knockout blow.
Its a race to four, and we feel that were in a good position, said Daniel Cleary, who had an empty-net goal in Detroits 2-0 victory Thursday night.
But we also understand that Chicago is a great team. Theyre loaded with champions, with winners, with guys (who) know what it takes.
Problem for the Blackhawks is those guys arent doing anything right now. Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings have shut them down completely.
Toews is without a goal in his past 10 playoff games dating to last season. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa combined for three shots in Game 4. And the few times Chicagos biggest stars have managed to wriggle free, Howard has been right there. The 29-year-old goalie has stopped 86 of 88 shots over the past three games.
Theyre doing a great job in front of me, Howard said, praising Detroits maturing defensemen. Theyve been helping me out a lot, and (its) why I think weve been successful here.