It's never easy to come from behind and win after trailing in a playoff series two games to none. For the Blackhawks, it is a rare feat -- the last time they did so was 16 years ago, in a first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a labor stoppage shortened season where they eventually lost in the conference finals (May 1995).
The Blackhawks do have the advantage of playing at home for the next two games. Or is that an advantage? The Hawks were a better road team than home team this season; they lost 17 regular season home games, twice as many as last year and the most (tied with the Rangers) of any playoff team this year.
With Kesler and Jonathan Toews, two of the NHL’s best two-way players, battling head-to-head, it may take moving Sharp back to center on the second line to negate some of the effectiveness of Kesler and the defensemen who help him. Kesler, who has 11 hits this series, is the front-runner for the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward, while Toews also is in the discussion after finishing fourth in voting last season. Kesler has taken 21 faceoffs against Toews this series; Henrik Sedin is next at 12.
"Nothing is better than scoring a goal, but shutting those guys down is fun," Kesler told reporters Saturday before the Canucks left for Chicago. "When you are playing against guys that skilled, you’ve got to focus more defensively."
So, the Hawks have their proverbial work cut out for them. The game starts at 7 p.m. CDT and can be seen on CSN Chicago and Versus.