Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
When: 8 PM EDT | Tickets: Check availability
Media: NBC Sports Network (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Second City Hockey, The Committed Indian
There's a worrisome fact that comes with preparation for game 4 tonight for the Tampa Bay Lightning: the Chicago Blackhawks are now well aware what goalie Ben Bishop can and can't do. They have visual evidence of how to put the goalie in a bind, pressing beyond his abilities at the moment. They've had a day to go over it, they'll have two days to pour over the results are from tonight's contest to further their intel and plan to attack.
And then there's the coincidental fodder that's come out in chatter via Twitter that may well further intimidate Lightning fans:
For the trivia crowd: Since 2009, CHI has won 6 of 9 series in which it has trailed 2-1.— Jason Kay (@JKTHN) June 10, 2015
No pressure, right? There's nothing to sweat about...? Yeah, the past happened and is over, done with, moot and all that jazz that I've been crowing since the start of the playoffs. The weight of the moment and looking to be informed about what lay ahead gives these little factoids more influence than they deserve. Some are signs of hope for the opposition. Some should be taken as hope for you, like this one:
But they're all irrelevant. They're all coincidences because there are no ties between these past series' and this one. These games are tied only in being part of the NHL Playoffs. The players, teams, the rounds they were played in the case of the Chicago-won-series-when-down, even the rules enforced in those games are different! They are awesome little stat quirks of history but... well, like it's said commonly - history gets made. History isn't born out of coincidence.
Ben Bishop isn't the only player hurting at this point in time, for either team for that matter. Center Tyler Johnson has something undisclosed bothering him and he's played through it. A sign of the issue was Ondrej Palat taking faceoffs for the TKO line more than usual on Monday as the game progressed. Unlike Monday, it appears he did participate in the morning skate with Palat and Nikita Kucherov. On the other side of the fence, Blackhawks Defenseman Johnny Oduya missed morning skate today, Reports indicated he's got an upper body injury and despite it (as it tends to be in the playoffs) he'll still play tonight.
This brings me back to Ben Bishop, who Tampa Bay Times beat writer said "looked fine" in morning skate. The challenge for the Hawks and Bolts is how well they adapt to each other's own adaptations at this point; if Chicago plans to try to exploit Bishop's areas of weakness, how does the Lightning limit this? Of course, the Bolts know the areas of Bishop's weakness better than anyone as they're aware of his condition. The Blackhawks are also aware that intense pressure (the 1st period of game 3) can tax the netminder. Pacing the intensity might be a more reasonable attack for them than going all-out early... Much like the Lightning found out from the end result of game 1.
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