Have we all recovered from triple overtime? It only took me five Stanley cups of coffee to get me through my work day. Luckily for me I had all day to listen to the endless podcasts about that classic game one. Before I get into some of the things the Hawks need to do for game two, I want to comment on the fast turnaround from critics of the Hawks. There was a lot of talk that the Hawks were identical to the Penguins and would be handled easily by the Bruins, and if you follow me on twitter, you’ll know I was going crazy over that statement. Luckily the Hawks put four behind Rask, which doubles the amount the Penguins had their whole series against Boston. Now, a day after game one, everyone is saying how the Hawks and Boston are so similar, and that’s a more accurate description… sort of. If you looked at the stats of the regular season you would see that the Hawks were a far more defense oriented team, and it’s ridiculous that so many people ignored that. Anyway, as Q has been saying all year, there is always room to improve.
5) Starts: The Hawks came out hitting everything that moved, and while it didn’t hurt them right away, an errant hit attempt by Hjalmarsson lead to the first Bruins’ tally. After about 10 minutes into the first, the Hawks settled down and played a more familiar game. The Hawks just need to keep playing their unique brand of hockey. Going into game two, the Hawks will have a better idea of the Bruins system. They’ll need to keep getting pucks deep and chasing after. They were hesitant about that in game one, but they can’t hesitate against the Bruins in game two.
4) Kane: It was clear that Kane wanted to light the lamp, and everyone was waiting for magic to happen. He was carrying the puck into the Bruins zone a lot, and he looked poised to do something big, but it never came. This is not something that needs to change per say, but Kane can utilize his team more. There will always be a balance in hockey. You don’t want to be a team that only passes because nothing gets done then. You also don’t want to be a selfish team and miss out on golden opportunities. The Hawks have found a decent balance all year five on five, and Kane got a little too heavy on the “do it all himself” side of things. He’s a threat, and he’s pulling the Bruins to him, which means someone is open. Kane doesn’t need to change much, but there is always room for improvement.
3) Special team: I’ll keep this short, but the Hawks PP is doing the opposite of Kane’s very minor issue. I’ll try and break it down like I’m calling the play. Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, and it’s knocked out of the zone with a poke check. No one wants to move, which means the Bruins only have to stand there waiving their sticks to successfully defend against such a diabolically genius PP. The special teams can be the difference maker in such a tight series. Hawks absolutely need to, at the very least, attempt to feign interest in wanting to score on the PP. We get it… you like to pass. Either way, I don’t actually expect this to get better.
2) The Depth: Stalberg’s speed would have possibly been a huge benefit to the Hawks going into the second and third overtime. With that said, I think Q wasn’t completely wrong in his decision to go with Bollig. The stats say that Stalberg did less with his 14 minutes of game 5 against the LA Kings than Bollig did with his 14 minutes against the Bruins. Bollig ended up with one more shot and seven more hits. Bruins have a reputation of being big and bad, but they really aren’t that large of a team. At this point, I’ll trust Q’s decision, but Bollig will need to keep up his physical play to make up for his lack of offense.
1) Rask: Let’s be honest, Rask did not have the bounces go his way. I take that back, the bounces went his way, but then were tipped by Bolland and deflected off Shaw. I can honestly say after almost two full games that “I LOVE SHINPADS!” Rask can’t be blamed for any of the goals, but that’s not what is important. He went off on his team a bit in his postgame interview, which shows that the determined Blackhawks effort frazzled him a bit. Hawks need to be unrelenting against him. He has a temper, and they need to do everything they legally can to spark it. Sure, you can say that the Hawks got a bit lucky with their bounces and that it wasn’t something the Hawks did directly to upset Rask. I disagree. The Hawks were getting bodies to the net, and when you bring chaos to the crease, random events tend to happen. Simply put, they created their own luck. Hawks need to keep doing exactly that to further push Rask.