The early mission of the Stanley Cup Finals has already been accomplished by the Chicago Blackhawks. The mission was to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in either Game One or Game Two, where both games are played in Tampa and then to sweep Games Three and Four in Chicago.
If they do that, they will have the Lightning on the brink of elimination. However, since they won Game One, a win tonight would mean a sweep of the only guaranteed road games of the series and a chance of a sweep. Now, let’s not get greedy, let’s just try to focus on winning Game Two.
Tonight’s Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals is set for a 6:15 PM Central Time puck drop. The game can be seen on NBC and can be heard on WGN AM 720.
For starters, the Hawks are going to have to find a way to weather the initial Lightning storm(sorry). In Game One, the Lightning came out like a bat out of hell and dominated the Hawks. In the first period, Tampa ruled possession to a 67.86% SAT Percentage but were luckily only able to secure a 1-0 lead in that frame.
After that, the Lightning went into a prevent defense mode and the Hawks ended up dominating the rest of the game in possession with a 55.42% SAT for the entire game. If the Lightning kept the pedal to the metal the entire game, they very well could have walked out with the win.
Can Tampa play at their initial feverish pace throughout the whole game? It remains to be seen, but they don’t seem intent on changing their strategy quite yet, so the Hawks need to pounce.
The Hawks need to avoid taking penalties since Tampa has such a dangerous Power Play. They only took two in Game One, which isn’t bad, but it’s still playing with fire. Maybe the Hawks’ Penalty Kill unit is rediscovering it’s mojo, which would be fantastic. Stay out of the box, boys.
The Lightning lack of depth ended up costing them in Game One. At the same time, Tampa should be proud that their top line dominated the Hawks’ top line. Valtteri Filppula, Steven Stamkos, and Alex Killorn dominated Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa while creating chances and scoring Tampa’s only goal.
If they can keep this up, the Hawks might be in trouble. We shall see.
Tampa really only has one great d-pairing and a two pairs filled with four to five glorified guys. It’s interesting that their best defenseman, Victor Hedman only saw a very conservative 25:41 of ice time in Game One. Head Coach, Jon Cooper is going to have to expand Hedman’s minutes by a lot or else the Hawks forwards are going to carve up the rest of the Lightning blueline.
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Ben Bishop will be back in net for the Lightning. The sometimes dominant, sometimes not-so-great goaltender was very “meh” in Game One. A .895 Save Percentage simply won’t cut it going forward. He’s probably going to steal at least one game this series though.
Don’t get used to Jonathan Toews sporting a 45.4% Faceoff Percentage and a 38.2% SAT Percentage throughout the finals. If he does, tip your cap to the Lightning because they might, in fact, be Toews’ Kryptonite. We shall see.
Depth is what won the game for the Hawks in Game One. Tampa really doesn’t have an answer for a 3rd line that boasts Antoine Vermette, Patrick Sharp, and Teuvo Teravainen. It will be interesting to see how the Lightning plan to contain this line going forward. One would think that any focus shifted to this line leaves more opportunities for Patrick Kane, so it’s really a pick your poison type of situation.
Duncan Keith only played a very pedestrian(for him) 28:37 in Game One. Would it be ridiculous to want more minutes from Keith?
Corey Crawford looked strong in Game One. Strong enough to where people are calling it a “goalie win”. I wouldn’t go that far, but that’s fair to say. Crawford only faced 23 shots and he stopped 22 of them. You’ll take that all day, everyday.
Outside of the first period, there is a ton to like about how the Hawks played in Game One. With the Lightning claiming to be sticking ith their strategy of coming out fast and slowing down once they take the lead, it makes you wonder if NOT scoring first is an okay strategy for the Hawks.
It’s not, but it’s worth a ponder.
Weather the storm and let’s steal another one, boys!
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