Chicago Blackhawks Looking For Away Split Against Anaheim Ducks

By Brian Kinkade

May 17, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) moves the puck against the defense of Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) 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

It’s been said a lot, but in a best of seven series, the team without home ice advantage just needs to split the first two road games of the series.  That team then must own the next two games which will be played on their home ice.  This is exactly what the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to do as they prepare for Game Two of Western Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks.  

Game Two will be played in Anaheim.  Puck drop is set for 8:00 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on NBCSN and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of how the Hawks and Ducks have fared throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

[table id=159 /]

Looking at these numbers, one would not be surprised that the Ducks were able to win Game One by three goals.  However, the underlying numbers from Game One tell a completely different story.

In terms of puck possession and shot attempts, the Hawks dominated the Ducks with a 55.96% to the Ducks’ 44.04% at even strength SAT Percentage in Game One.  Strangely, the Ducks dominated the 3rd period with a 63.3% of the SAT Percentage chances.

Anaheim won 52% of the faceoffs, which is an area the Hawks could use to gain some ground, but it says a lot that the Hawks dominated two-thirds of the game in possession while starting most shifts without the puck.

The Hawks’ Power Play was garbage once again.  They had three opportunities and only converted 5 shots on goal.  It would be a huge boost for the Hawks if they were to generate something, anything on the man-advantage.

Not much can be said about the playoff struggles of the Hawks’ Penalty Kill, but they killed the Ducks’ lone Power Play attempt, so that’s something.  They deserve a pat on the back for just staying out of the penalty box for most of the game.  The best way to kill penalties is to not commit them.

The Ducks have the top-heavy forwards that have everyone’s attention.  As they should, though.  If not enough attention is given to the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silvferberg, they will easily make you pay.

In Game One, the Ducks forward depth, which was considered a weakness, supplied all of the necessary offense.  Nate Thompson had a goal and an assist, Kyle Palmieri scored what would turn out to be the game-winning goal, and Andrew Cogliano showed why he can be dangerous and even added an assist.

Hampus Lindholm of what has been and still overall is a solid but not special Anaheim blueline corps, recorded a goal and assist in Game One.

Starting in net for the Ducks in Game Two will once again be Frederik Andersen.  Andersen was nothing short of spectacular in Game One, stopping 33 of 34 shots on goal.

The Hawks need to keep the course for the most part.  Dominating the puck in the first two periods of Western Conference Finals game while on the road is a recipe for success.  Hot goaltending and the Ducks seizing the opportunities given to them via the Hawks’ defensive breakdowns is enough to eliminate any kind of dominance and that’s exactly what happened in Game One.

Jonathan Toews line with Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad kept Kesler’s line off the scoresheet and vice-versa.  You’ll take that.  The Hawks’ 4th line of Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw did an excellent job of keeping the Getzlaf/Perry line in check.  Hopefully, this keeps up.

However, the Hawks’ predicted advantage of having more fire-power on their 2nd and 3rd lines didn’t really show up.  The Ducks won the depth battle overall, but both Patrick Kane and Teuvo Teravainen had good looks.  If they keep getting good looks, the Hawks will be in very good shape.

Kyle Cumiskey will replace David Rundblad as the Hawks’ 6th defenseman in Game Two.  Hopefully, Cumiskey can make this weakness a bit harder for the Ducks to exploit or at least give the Hawks’ top-four defenseman a bit more of a breather.

Starting in net in Game Two for the Hawks will once again be Corey Crawford.  Crow was so-so in Game One, but give him a chance to refind his dominant groove from the 2nd round.

The outcome wasn’t great obviously, but the underlying numbers favor the Hawks and suggest their best game(or games) is on the way.  Hot goaltending can steal wins for teams, so hopefully that doesn’t continue for Anaheim.

Let’s just get the road split and go from there.

Go Hawks!