The Chicago Blackhawks came out fast and flying in game one of the Western Conference Final, but could not cash in and missed on some opportunities. The Hawks dropping the first game, for the first time in a series has given them some opportunities now to reassess and reflect on what happened.
What game one came down to was an ineffective power play, defensive slips that the opposition cashed in on, lack of shots on goal by the stars and lack of traffic to the oppositions net that is being manned by a hot goalie and secondary scoring was missing.
The ineffectiveness of the Hawks power play has been much discussed, but the bottom line is the Hawks just need to simplify and just get traffic to the net and shots through to the goalie. What has not been discussed much is how good a blocking team the Anaheim Ducks are. They blocked 22 shots to the Hawks 9 and that is something this team does regularly whether it is 5 on 5 or shorthanded.
Probably a large portion of why the Blackhawks were unsuccessful potting goals in the first period onslaught was due to the Anaheim Ducks blocking the shots or getting in lanes with sticks so that the shots were deflected away.
Somehow the Hawks need to open lanes either with fake shot attempts, shooting from bad angles or just flat-out get to the net, which will somewhat alleviate the shot blocking. The latter is probably their best bet.
The defensive slips are going to happen it is how you recover that matters. Yes in game one David Rundblad had two mistakes but he also had a goal saving play and seemed to get stronger as the game went on. The Hawks are going to have to figure out their back-end. Whether it is Rundblad getting up to playoff speed or playing Kimmo Timonen more minutes or using Kyle Cumiskey the Hawks now have the opportunity to assess and tweak.
One can almost guarantee the Ducks will keep testing the Hawks defense until they prove they can stop them.
It should also be pointed out that if more than one goal was scored the backend problems would not have been as noticeable. The Brad Richards goal was scored because he pressured their defense maybe try making their defense a little uncomfortable which by the way was their best defenseman Francois Beauchemin that got beat so test the them all.
The Hawks did come out in the first period flying but did not pot a goal. If your going to spend that much energy you have to pot goals or your energy will fade which is what happened in this game as well. the shots on goal by period faded as the game wore on for the Hawks and increased for the Ducks.
This again underlines the styles of the two teams which makes it imperative that you net goals early if you’re the Hawks or pace yourself so you have something left in the third period. Against a team as good as the Ducks it will require a full 60 minutes on the Hawks part.
It also did not help that Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen each only had one shot on goal for the entire game. These are your more accurate shooters so it is crucial they get more than one shot on goal. Yes Frederik Andersen is a good goalie but he really was not tested by the Hawks best offensive threats.
The Hawks secondary scorers need to be better in all phases. It was the Ducks secondary scoring that made the difference in the game.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that the Ducks can’t play like that again but don’t be fooled they played the way they usually do. They let their opponents expend a lot of energy and they block shots and when they have you worn down either physically or mentally they pounce and make you pay.
It will be interesting to see the Hawks adjustments in game two not many need to be made though. It’s one game and there is no panic in this team. There is not much that needs to be tweaked just execute a bit better, get more shots through and get to the net. The Blackhawks only need to come away from Anaheim with one game. It’s a long series.