The Chicago Blackhawks were Presidents Trophy winners and were supposed to have no problem with the Detroit Red Wings, but things did not go according to plan in the Western Conference semifinals. The Wings rolled off three straight wins to go up 3-1 in the series and the Hawks looked destined for an early exit.
Monday's Game 6 begins at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.
Chicago got back in the series with a Game 5 win, though, and have flipped the pressure onto Detroit. Now the Red Wings have to win at home in Game 6 or slip all momentum to the Blackhawks, who would have one game at home to advance to the conference finals.
The Wings will be comforted by their 4-1 playoff record at Joe Louis Arena, which looks even better because the Blackhawks are just 2-4 on the road. This is Detroit's best chance to win this series because a road Game 7 is looming, where all of the smart money will be on Chicago.
How much will Datsyuk and Zetterberg play together?
The Red Wings have had success in this series splitting up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, but after being beaten down in Game 5, Mike Babcock might reunite his two best players on the same line. If so, Babcock would be putting all of his eggs in the Datysuk-Zetterberg basket, which means that line would have to produce in a big way.
Will Toews build on his Game 5 goal?
Jonathan Toews had gone 10 playoff games without a goal dating back to last season so when he scored in Game 5, it was a huge relief for the Blackhawk. But just one goal isn't going to do it for Toews and Chicago. The Blackhawks still have to beat Jimmy Howard and trail 3-2 in the series, so if they want to make a comeback they are going to need a big performance from Toews. That Game 5 goal has to be a sign of things to come, not a one-off.
Can the Chicago penalty kill continue to sparkle?
The Blackhawks penalty kill has been nothing short of brilliant in the playoffs, killing off 35 of 36 power plays so far. They kept the Red Wings scoreless in four chances in Game 5 and with Game 6 back in Detroit, the Blackhawks are going to be asked to kill several more penalties -- they need to turn it another sterling penalty kill performance.