Tonight the Hawks looks to capture their first championship on home-ice since 1938 when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs three games to one. In addition to hoisting Lorde Stanley’s hardware on home-ice for the first time in 77 years, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is one win away from tying Tony Esposito’s franchise record for postseason wins. Of course the Blackhawks are also trying to stake their claim as favorites for team of the decade at the midway point with their third title since 2010.
Now it’s no mystery that Hawks fans travel well, they have some of the most loyal fans with some of the deepest pockets, and it’s showed up at every game of every series since this run has started with the dynamic duo. It’s impossible to ignore the red jerseys in the stands during the road games on TV. Something that was extremely hard to miss on Saturday during Game 5 in Tampa. It’s because of this reason and the fact that the Hawks haven’t won a championship at home in 77 years that tonight’s tickets are ranging some $15,000 in price from standing room only to seats on the glass.. Tonight’s game at the UC has the feeling of a PPV Boxing event here in Chicago with tickets at eye popping prices.
Now while the fanbase and the city gear up for a party starting tonight at 10CDT, the Tampa Bay Lightning may have something to say about it. The Lightning are 3-0 in elimination games this postseason and have already beaten the Blackhawks at the United Center. Every game in the series has been decided by a goal and the Lightning much like the Blackhawks have yet to see their best player stand out in the biggest series. Steven Stamkos is still missing in action and tonight’s the night he needs to show up. The Lightning have been a fabulous road team in these playoffs, but without him there will be no seventh game on Wednesday. Jon Cooper knows he needs his captain to show up tonight if there’s to be any hopes of spoiling the inevitable party in Chicago.
Tonight’s game is going to get a whole lot more difficult if the Blackhawks are to score first. The team that has scored first in the series has won every game except the first. Ben Bishop gave up a bad goal on a botched play in his own zone and it ended up costing the Lightning on Saturday and that can’t happen again. Tonight Ben Bishop will need to have the best game of his career and the Lightning know what they have to do. However the United Center is going to be bedlam with anticipation for a trophy ceremony. The Lightning will not have the luxury of putting Victor Hedman on Patrick Kane and that means line changes will be critical for Tampa in stopping the dormant superstar.
Tonight’s game has way too much meaning for Chicago for them to not win. Even if the Blackhawks falter tonight there’s no guarantee they won’t win it all on Wednesday. They’ve won twice in Tampa and with the prices being so high tonight, it’s tough to imagine Tampa spoiling the party. Expect this game to be the best game of the series with Tampa’s season on the line. Tonight’s national anthem could be the loudest it’s ever been.
If the Blackhawks do win tonight, without a doubt Corey Crawford will be the Conn Smythe recipient. Something that should be extra sweet after being pulled for a couple games in the opening round series against Nashville nearly two months ago.