May 17, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Brad Richards (91) controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Well, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. The Chicago Blackhawks lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-1. The score is a bit misleading, as the Hawks played a strong game, but it’s a loss nonetheless. Have heart, Blackhawks fans! It’s only Game 1, and it was played on enemy ice. Here are my 5 takeaways from the first game of this series.
5. Teuvo Teravainen. Baby TT played a heck of a game. Right at the beginning of the game, he made a great pass to Sharpie to create a good scoring chance for the second line. At another point, he had the presence of mind to kick a puck behind him with his skate to get it away from a Duck player. Coach Q saw all this, and at one point in the third period Teravainen was on a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews! It would be fun to see more of that.
TT had 12:44 minutes of ice time, and he looked confident and was a threat all night. In spite of all this, he only had one shot on goal. If he can be more aggressive and shoot more, good things could happen.
4. Rundblad exposed. This was David Rundblad’s first ever playoff game, and he also hasn’t played in a while. Well, it showed. He made 2 bad turnovers in his own end that directly led to goals for the Ducks. After the second goal, Rundy slammed his stick over the goalpost in frustration.
But Rundblad wasn’t strapped to the bench after his mistakes; after all, what choice does Q have? He did seem to settle in later in the game, and even saved a wraparound attempt. Let’s hope Rundy has gotten the jitters out of the way and can put forth a better effort going forward.
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Rundblad played 10:47 minutes of ice time, which is about what one would expect out of a defenseman outside of the top 4. Meanwhile, Kimmo Timonen only had 5:15 minutes of ice time. Why isn’t he playing more? No one seems to be able to answer this question. He plays solid when he’s in there, so why not let him give the top 4 a bit more of a break against this very physical Anaheim team?
3. Lineblender. It was in the second period that Quenneville started to get creative. Bicks/Toews/Hossa. Sharp/Richards/Kane. Saad/Vermette/Kane. Kane/Toews/Hossa. In the third period there was a shift of Teravainen/Kane/Toews. The Hawks had trouble scoring yesterday, but I wouldn’t expect that to last long. Never fear, Quenneville is working on the best matchups against these guys. And you can bet they’re figuring out a way to get to Anderson. He can’t stand on his head like that for 6 more games.
The Hawks are practicing today; it will be interesting to see if there will be any line changes for Tuesday night’s matchup.
2. Holding back the top guys. The Chicago Blackhawks did a good job of containing the Duck’s best players. Corey Perry and Patrick Maroon had 0 points. Ryan Getzlaf was credited with an assist, but it was off of an empty net goal.
It was the third line of Andrew Cogliano (1A), Nate Thompson (1G, 1A), and Kyle Palmieri (1G) that took care of things for this game. Hey wait, I thought it was the Blackhawk’s third line that was supposed to be doing this!
1. Hawks still best team for most of the game. The Chicago Blackhawks had better puck possession and more shots on goal for most of the game. They dominated the first 2 periods, and it was the untimely mistakes of the inexperienced David Rundblad that cost them the lead and forced them to play from behind. In the third period, Duncan Keith was trying to make a play that back-fired and led to the third goal.
I have faith that if the Hawks continue to play like they did in Game 1, they can come away with a win for Game 2. Rundblad needs to settle in, and the boys need to keep at it. Keep grinding away, and you will find your way past Frederik Andersen. This was only Game 1 folks! The Chicago Blackhawks are excellent at making adjustments and finding a way to win!
FOR THE CUP!!!
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