Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Things We Learned From Game 1 Win

By Matt Barbato
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Jun 3, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) battles for the puck with Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) in the third period in game one of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Experience mattered 

A big topic of conversation was whether Chicago’s experience on the biggest stage in the sport would be an advantage over the upstart Lightning. Experience definitely mattered in Game 1. The Blackhawks played a pretty mediocre game, especially in the first period, but kept fighting for opportunities.

The Hawks trailed from the 15:29 mark in the first period to the 13:28 mark in the third period. They continued to show an incredible amount of resiliency and Corey Crawford managed to keep the game within striking distance.

Crawford made 22 saves, but made two tremendous saves in particular on a Ryan Callahan breakaway and a Steven Stamkos slap shot in transition.

The Hawks didn’t dominate much of the game, but they kept it close and struck when given the opportunities. Tampa was the better team for most, but Chicago’s experience helped them persevere and steal a win.

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Stars held in check 

Much was made about the talented stars on both teams, but none of them really had a major impact on the game. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad were held to six shots combined. Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov were held to six combined shots and Stamkos had five of them.

Duncan Keith got on the scoresheet with an assist and Alex Killorn, who scored Tampa’s lone goal on a ridiculous redirect, is a nice player. But, the stars were shut down for the most part. Chicago’s depth proved pivotal as players like Vermette, Teravainen, Kruger and Andrew Shaw were the difference.

Conservative start 

This was expected to be a fast-paced, high-flying series. Game 1 was far from that. The Hawks got only 21 shots on goal and the Bolts only sent 23 shots on net. Each team had a couple of chances, but the second and third periods were generally played in the neutral zone, with neither team taking a ton of risks until the very end.

This conservative play could have been a result of both teams feeling each other out.  The two teams hadn’t played since Feb. 27 and hesitancy may have been an emphasis with so much talent on the ice. Both teams clearly tried to avoid taking many risks, but expect things to open up as the series continues.

Hawks fans may be unaccustomed to a bland Game 1 to start the Cup final. In 2010, the Hawks and Flyers had a back-and-forth affair in Chicago’s 6-5 Game 1 win. In 2013, the Blackhawks treated fans at the United Center to a 4-3 triple overtime thriller against the Boston Bruins.

A bland win will certainly do for the players and fans alike.

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