Chicago Blackhawks vs San Jose Sharks Yeah, Hockey. If you’re gonna hate, don’t participate! I got no problem with 60 minutes of constant action and hard hitting…but that’s just me. I know DonkeyKilla is a Sharks fan, so maybe he can give us the breakdown on San Jose. I’m not that familiar with the Sharks and I’d like to know who, and what, to watch for in the upcoming playoff series. Here’s my take on the Blackhawks: Profile: Young, fast team with good chemistry. Everyone looks to Toews, Kane and Hossa for the big plays, but this is a team known for getting good contributions from all of their lines. They lean more toward finesse than “dump and chase” but they can swarm the net on a D&C if a team lays down a lot of back pressure, or neutral zone pressure. This is their second year in the Conference Finals and they have looked more confident and self-assured (despite phoning in some games against the Preds and Canucks in the earlier rounds) this year. Strengths: Young, fast, confident. Have playoff experience. Good penalty killing. Aggressive defense. Contributions from 3rd and 4th lines. Doesn’t panic easily and can come from behind (see Weaknesses). Weaknesses: Although they can, and have, come from behind, they can also fall flat. When they’re flat you’ll see missed passes, bad decisions, takeaways, and breakaway opportunites with over extended Hawks players caught out of position. (If you don't know hockey that well, just picture the Raiders defense under Rob Ryan...that's the Blackhawks when they're flat.) Primarily a finesse team, it looked like the Preds, and especially the Canucks, studied game film to see what they could do to break up Hawks plays before they could get them started. If a team can crash Chicago’s net in the first 5 minutes, and get one or two past Niemi, they can get by the Blackhawks, especially if it’s one of those games where the Chicago players phone it in. I don’t want to mention any names, but there are some Hawks players whose eagerness to get to a puck on the boards seems a bit lacking if it’s likely that they’ll have to take a big hit from an opposing player. In goal, Niemi has been strong so far…no complaints…but if he has a bad game, or loses his confidence, or gets injured…the Blackhawks will be in real trouble. What to watch for: If they’re on their game, Chicago will come out fast and try to get a lot of early net pressure. Watch for Byfuglien to plant in front of Nabokov. Because of Vancouver’s read of the Hawks, Quenneville will probably introduce some new wrinkles that San Jose has not seen. Burrish and Eager will have to play the hard hitters too…it can’t all fall on Big Buff’s shoulders. Also watch for a standout game from Hossa…he’s due. Kane has been good, but we’ve seen a couple blowouts from him when he’s trying to deke a defender out of his pants. He may be due for a big game too. San Jose, however, didn’t get to the finals because they’re a bum team. They have home ice advantage and I’m sure they have a plan as to how to neutralize Chicago. In the regular season, the teams pretty much split. (1-1-2, I think). Here’s to a good series. GO BLACKHAWKS!!!