The Chicago Blackhawks took game one from the Minnesota Wild in overtime, and what a game it was. Despite the excitement, there was some cause for concern. The Hawks started sluggish and a little out of sync. The tape to tape passing wasn’t there which lead to some odd man rushes, and the Hawks ended up scrambling in their own end quite a bit during the first. We saw some improvement in the second and then a fairly dominate game in the third. The one thing that was a big negative was Crow’s first goal, but was it all bad?
- The Bad: Crow reminded everyone of why he had so many doubters at the beginning of the season. That first goal should never have gone in; it shouldn’t have been considered a threat. It was a potential confidence killer, not just for Crow, but for the team as a whole.
- The Good: I’d rather have the soft goal come in the first period and not in overtime. That gave Crawford ample time to recover, and he did exactly that. He made some very nice saves for the remainder of the game, including a ridiculous blocker save. The team seemed to react in a positive matter, and they eventually tied the game on the Power Play.
Now about that power play. Yes, we did score, but let’s be honest, there were a few shorthanded attempts that raised some concern. So what can we take from the power play you ask? Well…
- The Bad: The Power play went one for three, which isn’t too bad, but it did give the Wild some unneeded confidence. They seemed to have watched a few tapes of how teams make our boys seem clueless on the PP and did their best to cause some heart attack moments. This could have been disastrous long term in the series if Crow gives up a shorty…
- The Good: But hey!!! He didn’t. It possibly helped Crawford re-solidify is confidence. We tied up the game with a hell of a pass from Kane to Hossa. The PP is starting to click in the last few games of the season, it’s still not great… but any time we can add a threat to our offense I’ll take it.
The one other thing I noticed that could be viewed in two ways was Patrick Sharp. I’m glad he’s back, and I really hope he stays back. His speed and shot are both huge threats for any opposing team, and he usually is quite sound defensively. There were a few things that I noticed.
- The Bad: He looked a little lost occasionally, and we saw that at least two to three times in his zone enteries. Or should I say lack thereof? The first really odd play at the blue line was when he just stopped right before the blue line and didn’t seem to know what to do; he had Kane and I believe Handzus up with him, but just stood there and kind of puck handled. He could have dumped it in, or skated it in, or possibly passed it back if he really had to. He just didn’t. He also wasn’t reading the enteries when he didn’t have the puck.
- The Good: If offsides is my biggest complaint then Sharp is doing fine. Its expected for him to need some time to get back into the flow. He was moving very well all night and had a few nice opportunities. He had four hits, five shots, and was a handy 50% at the dot. Not a bad way to start the playoffs, and we know that Sharp can be deadly as the games go on.
With one game down, we got a taste of what the series is going to be like. The Wild are not going to let the Hawks have any space in the neutral zone or at the blue line. This will be a dump and chase series. With every negative of the first game came a positive right along with it, so in theory the Hawks can only get better as the series rolls on. One last thing, Suter played 41 minutes out of necessity. Expect the Hawks to start having slightly easier zone entries and third periods as the games go by. So what were some other negatives that might also be positives?