The pep talk worked. After his 14 penalty minutes in Game 3, Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was given a talking to from 14-year veteran Michal Handzus. The chat paid off as Shaw scored twice in Game 5 as the Blackhawks stayed alive against the Detroit Red Wings.
On the other side of the ice, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance in Game 5. Calling their play "poor" after the game should be enough of a pep talk for them to turn things around for Game 6 Monday night. In the end, Detroit just couldn’t hold off Chicago’s desperate play.
From the Detroit Free Press (after Game 5):
“It’s hard to match that when their backs are against the wall and ours aren’t,” Daniel Cleary said. “But that’s something we have to be ready to do Monday, play like our backs are against the wall, which I like to think that they are.”
From the Chicago Tribune (Monday):
"The mindset should be like before last game," winger Marian Hossa said. "Our backs are against the wall still but I think we put a great perforance last qame. We felt like were skating and were much more with puck control playing. We have to do it again."
Back home in Detroit, where they’re 7-1 in their last eight home games, the Red Wings have another shot to close out the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Blackhawks and advance to their fourth (and final) Western Conference Final since 2005-06. But again, they'll face a Chicago team carrying mighty expectations and with their season on the line.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, want to play it loose. The pressure is all on the Blackhawks to turn back into their dominant selves and complete a series comeback and go on to the third round. Playing tight will do them no favors, something Babcock noted about Game 5. "Loose and driving", as he said Monday morning, is the type of play he expects.
Having seen the rejiggered lines of the Blackhawks and how they play when filled with desperation, the Red Wings can use that to get the always-tough fourth win in the series. At home, with the option for last change, Babcock will try to use that to his advantage and get the preferred matchups.
Home teams are 48-20 in the playoffs this year and 18-3 in the second round. The last time the Red Wings closed out a playoff series at home? The 2009 West Final when Darren Helm's overtime goal in Game 5 beat, you guessed it, the Blackhawks.
Will The Joe finally see a series celebration after Game 6?
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy