CHICAGO | Three years ago, the Blackhawks turned to Dustin Byfuglien to post his strapping 6-foot-5 body on opposing goalies, blocking their views and pouncing on rebounds.
The Hawks had not used that tactic much this postseason until Wednesday night, when it worked like the good ol’ days as the Hawks scored six times against Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Now the Hawks plan to put the same pressure on Rask during Game 5 on Saturday at the United Center.
"Just do it again," Bryan Bickell said. "We made it easy on (Rask) in Game 3.
At 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds, Bryan Bickell is the current Hawks player who most resembles Byfuglien. Bickell teamed with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on a first line Wednesday that skated together again in practice Friday.
“We know we needed to get screens and traffic, and second and third opportunities,” Bickell said. “We did a pretty good job and stick with it."
It was an improvement on Game 3, when Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said his team put every shot right in Rask's glove, without distracting him with traffic at the net or screens to block his sight lines.
Quenneville said it's better when Rask is on edge.
“You want to make sure that he doesn't get too comfortable," Quenneville said. "I thought we were very accommodating Game 3 as far as where we put the puck off the forecheck."
Shadowing Rask in Game 4 paid off when Toews tipped only his second goal of the postseason. The Hawks hit the jackpot when Toews partially screened Rask from tracking Brent Seabrook’s rocket slapshot that won the game in overtime.
Distracting Rask also opened space for Patrick Kane to sneak in and score at close range.
“I’m more of an outside guy trying to set up plays and create," Kane said, "but the goal I scored, I was on the outside and came back in because there was so much traffic at the net, the puck was laying for me there.”
“You can look at Kaner's goal as an example where we have traffic and we have a second guy coming in ready for any sort of rebound," Toews said. "It's like two guys screening the goaltender, and eventually someone's going to find the loose puck. (Bickell) gets that second chance and throws it on net. Kaner comes in for the next rebound. That's the way we want to score goals and create chances.”