The Chicago Blackhawks go into Game 2 tonight against the Edmonton Oilers leading the series after a 6-4 win in Game 1.
Blackhawks’ Team Leaders:
Dominik Kubalik – 5 points (2G, 3A)
Jonathan Toews – 3 points (2G, 1A)
Brandon Saad – 2 points (1G, 1A)
The Chicago Blackhawks played a solid Game 1, scoring 6 goals in the first two periods, and proved they can battle adversity, after giving up the first goal of the game in the first few minutes. They also proved they can pile goals up if needed, as they scored 4 goals in a span of 8 minutes.
Their young players made a huge impact in Game 1, with Dominik Kubalik proving his regular season wasn’t a fluke, as he went into Game 2 and had a 5 point night, after 142 days of not playing a meaningful game of hockey.
Kirby Dach and Adam Boqvist did their jobs well, with Dach being involved with multiple scoring chances and staying physical with the Oilers during all of his shifts. He proved he can play a physical game, get in front of the net, and create scoring chances in important moments.
Boqvist, along with Duncan Keith, played very solid defense, setting the tone for the rest of the team. I was very impressed with Calvin de Haan‘s play, along with Olli Maatta. They both have some work to do, but they’re a solid second line for the Blackhawks defensive core.
The issue with the Blackhawks come with their Penalty Kill. They didn’t give up a single goal 5-on-5, they gave up three Power Play goals, with the Oilers’ last goal coming with their goalie pulled. Yes, the Oilers have the best Power Play in the NHL, but the Blackhawks had a top 10 Penalty Kill. There are no excuses for their sloppy play on the Penalty Kill.
The Oilers’ two goals late in the game are something to look at, as they were starting to make a dent into Chicago’s lead. Chances are, it was because the Blackhawks took their foot off of the gas pedal, as the game was over, but still, two late goals show that the Oilers might be down but never out.
The key for the Blackhawks is to get off to a quick start, scoring the first goal, and hopefully piling a few on the Oilers quick, to take them out of the game. Yes, Chicago is the youngest team in the playoffs, but they still have players who are playoff veterans, who have won Stanley Cups, and know the importance of games, like tonight.
If the veterans step up and show the younger players the way, this will be a big game for the Blackhawks, as Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews have more playoff experience than the entire Oilers team combined. If those guys step up big again as they did in Game 1, I’m expecting another win for Chicago.
Oilers’ Team Leaders:
Leon Draisatil – 3 points (1G, 2A)
Connor McDavid – 3 points (1G, 2A)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 3 points (1G, 2A)
The Edmonton Oilers have one thing going for them, they scored two late goals. This team will be coming out hard tonight, as they cannot afford to fall 2-0 in a best-of-5 series.
The lack of playoff experience for the Oilers showed to be costly in Game 1, but that doesn’t mean the series is over. If the Oilers take Game 2, the series is wide open again. If the Oilers can draw penalties and convert on the Power Play, this could be a very long night for the Blackhawks.
Who has the edge?
The Chicago Blackhawks have the edge in this one, as they’ve beaten the Oilers three times now this season. They destroyed them for most of Game 1. Chicago owned the game when it was 5-on-5, the only time they struggled was when they were down a man.
The Oilers (-130) are again favored to win Game 2 by 1 1/2 goals. The odds are closer in this game than they were in Game 1, but still, I was surprised when I saw the Oilers were favored.
Puck Drop is at 10:30 PM ET. Make sure to follow along on our Twitter page during the game, and come back here after the game for post-game reactions! Let’s Go Hawks! #AllForOne.