Blackhawks eliminate the Wild with a 5-1 victory in Game 5 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Blackhawks eliminate the Wild with a 5-1 victory in Game 5

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks will move onto the next round after defeating Minnesota 5-1 in Game 5 at the United Center.

In many ways the Blackhawks couldn't have asked for a move favorable matchup. On Thursday night they were not only the better team, but the more determined as was the case as the series went on. Chicago's big names played well, the supporting cast was working hard as usual and Corey Crawford made sure the contest was never in much doubt.

Crawford led the Blackhawks once again as the Wild seemed to come out with a more reckless approach. Maybe Minnesota wanted to take their chances with a wide open style of game. Crawford made difficult saves in the opening period as the Wild applied pressure. Once the Blackhawks took the lead with a very sharp Crawford in net, the outcome never seemed to be in doubt.

When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 it was the opinion of most around the league they had the top third line in hockey. That team could actually claim to have the best bottom six forwards in the league as well.

This year the Hawks third line has been very effective since the beginning of the season. Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg comprise one of the best third lines in the league. They are fast, strong along the boards and can score.

Last night Shaw and another hard worker who plays on the fourth line Marcus Kruger recorded goals. Marian Hossa played with determination and was the best Chicago forward scoring twice.

In the playoffs top players can be equalized and the supporting cast is often the difference. The Blackhawks third line as well as their third pairing on defense of Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival played at a high level versus the Wild.

Minnesota relies on a few top players to carry the load and when they don't produce trouble follows.

Compared to other playoff participants the Wild were not a strong 5 on 5 team. The chances for Minnesota to defeat the Hawks decreased a great deal when they went 0-17 on the power play. To make matters worse their star on offense Zach Parise was held to only a single point in the series. Having a healthy Niklas Backstrom in net would have mattered some, but not enough.

There really isn't a secret formula to beat the Blackhawks. Minnesota tried to play a more physical game but even so they had no answers for Crawford. Goal tending is ultra important always and especially so in the playoffs. The much maligned Crawford is currently at the top of the goal tending standings this post season.

Last night the cork finally popped off the bottle as the Wild relinquished their more defensive style and tried to skate with the Blackhawks. As long as Crawford is as good, no team in the West should be able to beat the Blackhawks at their game.

Looking ahead the Hawks will rest before facing either San Jose or Detroit. The Sharks swept the Canucks to advance to the second round and the Red Wings currently trail Anaheim 3-2 in their series.

Head Coach Joel Quenneville mentioned in post game comments the Hawks need to play at a higher level. As Quenneville stated he isn't doing any cartwheels yet. Coach Q. knows the next opponent will be a more difficult.

The Blackhawks defeated Minnesota without Jonathan Toews making a big impact on the scoresheet. Patrick Kane played well but like Toews didn't record a goal. The Chicago power play was dismal. Only the Wild power play ranks lower in this post season, and it is highly unlikely they will face a third string goal tender in the next round.

The Sharks will be more physical than the Red Wings and have a very hot goal tender in Antti Nieme. Going through Detroit would most likely be the easier route to the Cup, but either way the Hawks will need to better.

Quenneville won't be so concerned with what club he will face in the next round. He will be focused in getting the intensity higher for his own squad. Quenneville knows at some point he will need goals from Toews, Kane and on the power play.

Coach Q. also knows if Crawford keeps playing as well the Blackhawks have a great chance to move onto the Western Conference Championship.

You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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