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Ducks/Hawks Game 6 Preview: Elimination Station

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The consequences behind this game are very simple: win and play for the Stanley Cup, or lose and face a winner-take-all situation in Anaheim on Saturday night.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned From Game 5

No lead is safe against the Chicago Blackhawks. After Game 1's 4-1 victory, it might have seemed for a moment as if the Ducks were going to coast to another win. The Hawks had other plans, though, and with 45 minutes and change left on the clock after Sami Vatanen's goal, they had plenty of time to operate. As Anaheim soul-crusher Jonathan Toews explained after the game, "...there's an unusual calm and just a resolve that we knew at that point of the game there was lots of time left and it was going to take a [heck] of a job by them to hold us off the next two periods." It's incredibly difficult, if not borderline impossible, to rattle Chicago as a whole.

While the Hawks are a team that can't be shaken off your back, the Ducks operate slightly differently; if they're getting wrecked, their opponents should expect an emphatic response. Anaheim players attested to their anger being the catalyst behind their quick finish in the first overtime on Monday night. Corey Perry said during the postgame, "When you have that lead and you see it evaporate, there is a lot of anger. You don't hang your head, you don't sulk. You get angry and thrive on the situation." Cam Fowler added, "Bruce [Boudreau] has talked about that all year, that when we play angry and with a little bit of an edge, that's when we're at our best. We weren't going to let that one slip away."

The Hawks are deadly when they get rolling, but so are the Ducks when they're angered. The characteristic that helps vault the possessing team into the Stanley Cup Final remains to be seen.

What Needs to Change From Last Game

Most of the Ducks' issues from Game 5 lie within the fact that playing to defend a lead is never the way to go for them, and it's a much worse idea when you're matched up with the Blackhawks and you give them three-quarters of a game to mount a comeback. After a first period that would seem understated if you described it as 'dominant', the Ducks shelled up, and after Teuvo Teravainen got his team on the board just inside the second period, the momentum shifted drastically in the other direction, and it stayed that way for a large majority of the remaining regulation time. Playing a full 60-minute game hasn't been a consistency for Anaheim, but Game 5 shows why that needs to change.

Within that same idea (and this should go without saying), don't give Chicago anything easy. The particular event that comes to mind is the Hawks' second goal in the dying seconds of the middle period. With the puck behind Frederik Andersen, Francois Beauchemin swung behind the net to begin a breakout. Hampus Lindholm had the same idea, but foreseeing a problem with his teammate, Beauch called Hampus off the puck. Lindholm kept skating, which led to the two getting tangled up behind the net, giving possession back to the Hawks. While Lindholm tried to readjust to the developing play, he didn't catch Brent Seabrook sneaking into the faceoff circle on his side of the ice, and the Chicago defenseman capitalized on a pass from Teravainen. Only one example, but one that shows what happens when you make dumb mistakes against a team that's more liable to punish you for them.

Finally, that game-tying goal? You're better than that, Freddie. Shake it off, buddy.

Game Notes

Just like before Games 3 and 5, neither team practiced yesterday as they were making their way back to Chicago. It shouldn't be a surprise by now, but other than the lineup swap between Emerson Etem and Tomas Fleischmann, Boudreau's line rushes have remained consistent throughout the playoffs, and there's no reason to expect that to change now. From the Blackhawks' camp, it looks like a possibility that Trevor van Riemsdyk might get a look tonight, likely drawing in for either Kyle Cumiskey or Kimmo Timonen, who are undoubtedly the weakest links in the Hawk defense. Van Riemsdyk skated at the United Center last week for the first time since undergoing surgery in April, and he will participate in today's morning skate as well.

Fearless Prediction

As some of you may have heard, Andrew Shaw received a few gifts from the Chicago Fire, the local Major League Soccer team, after his disallowed header in Game 2.

Facing elimination for the first time in these playoffs, the media finds out that Shaw decided to cover his bases by signing a contract with the Fire for the remainder of the season. If the Hawks win tonight, he has a difficult decision to make as to whether he will play in Game 7 on Saturday, or stay back in Illinois to lend a helping hand to his new club against the Montreal Impact.