Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 05/29/13 at 10:45 AM ET
by Eli Epstein, TiqIQ
Chicago has gotten all it bargained for from Detroit in the Western Conference semifinals. Heavily favored entering the series, the Blackhawks have been taken to a decisive Game 7 by the Red Wings. In the process, however, the Hawks have shown plenty of moxie, even if they haven’t been dominant from A to Z like some analysts expected them to be.
The name that first comes to mind in Chicago is goaltender Corey Crawford, who’s allowed his team to climb back in the series after dropping Games 2, 3 and 4. Crawford, despite a few tricky moments this postseason, is still posting a 1.78 Goals Against Average and a .936 Save Percentage.
The defense in front of him hasn’t always been that steady, however. Standout Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is saddled with a -6 rating, while Nick Leddy doesn’t fall too far behind at -5. On the other end, Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson have been rocks defensively for the Blackhawks this postseason.
Offensively, few expected grinder Brian Bickell to be tied for second on the Blackhawks in goals this playoffs, but there he is with five. His 30 hits also leads the team and his overall contributions have been crucial to the Hawks’ playoff success thus far.
Game 7 will be played on the Blackhawks home ice at the United Center in Chicago. Ticket prices are rising this week, according to TiqIQ, soaring eight percent in that time frame. For tonight’s game, the average price for Blackhawks tickets at the United Center will be $595. Some seats are available for as low as $208, but there aren’t many left. According to TiqIQ, only 2600 seats remained as of Tuesday afternoon.
Overall this series, the average price for a ticket at the United Center was $407, while it was significantly lower ($200) at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
One of the Red Wings’ biggest concerns this postseason has been their penalty kill. They sit fourth to last among playoff teams and the three squads below them have all been eliminated. The 11 powerplay goals they’ve squandered have greatly imperiled their chances of handedly dispatching the Blackhawks.
Unheralded stars have emerged for the Red Wings this series, however. Dan Cleary, normally a checking line stalwart, has stepped up as a goal scorer. Justin Abdelkader, produced in a similar ilk, leads the team with 52 hits and has been a wrecking ball from end to end.
While the Detroit’s playoff story has been a fairy tale, fans won’t remember it so whimsically if they blow a 3-1 series lead to their archrival. Analysts expectations are one thing, but in Hockeytown, the zealots who fill the seats always expect another ring.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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