In the past 2 series between these 2 teams the Canucks won game 1 with pretty convincing scores. It would have been bad luck to win this game, right? After all, in those 2 series Chicago ended up winning in 6. I was not expecting much coming into this game. Figuring that the Nucks would want it more and that the Hawks are late starters in the playoffs, a win would have been a bit of a shocker. And still, I wanted it as did every Chicago Hockey fan, so I am still wanting more.
Let History repeat itself, The Blackhawks lose game 1 in Vancouver.
Vancouver came out ready to win. It might even be better to say that they came out refusing to lose. In the first 20 minutes, Vancouver wanted this game much more, and it could not have been seen in any greater way than in the physical play. Chicago just kind of sat back and watched for a while, watched as Vancouver gave them a physical ass kicking. I thought that the Nucks overindulged a tad in this category and might have gotten away with a few, but it doesn't take away from their intensity.
Needless to say, this explosion onto the ice by Vancouver caused a 2 goal lead heading into the second. A tip in and then a breakaway goal and neither were ever answered by the Hawks. 2 was enough for the win in this one. The breakaway goal came off of a giveaway by the Hawks. 2 things about this play. 1.) Campbell circled way too wide considering he had just left the puck for the only defensemen behind him. 2.) Hossa got flat out beat in a race for the net. I wanted a dive by Hossa at the last second, but apparently he didn't want it that much and watching him get out skated was hard to watch.
Campbell had maybe his best game of the season besides that play, but Hossa had a very weak game all around. When a lot of the Hawks success this postseason depends on his ability to be big, doubt has set in on whether or not he can and if the Hawks can be successful as a result.
Vancouver might have started really, really strong, but there are some things to be happy about. The Hawks finished strong, and Luongo had a horseshoe up his butt. Give credit to the Hawks for battling back and almost taking it away. A few inches on two shots and we have a completely different outcome. Not finishing shots is the Hawks achilles heel.
After a strong PK by the Hawks late in the first, the tide of this game started to shift towards the Hawks. A couple of great shifts were put together, one coming off of a smart play by Smith, and others put together by the top line, and a few by the 3rd and 4th lines. A problem occurred when Kopecky was jumped and injured on a play. He left the game and the Hawks bench was short as a result. Johnson took a knee to knee hit later and shrunk the bench even more. Even given these unfortunate events, the Hawks still finished strong.
It has shown that a more consistent line combination is helpful to the Hawks and that was not to be in this game. It is quite clear that a healthy Bolland will be largely useful. Q has to be careful not to over play certain players. Having them tired by the 3rd helps no one.
A plus, Brouwer's return was felt in a positive way. I thought he had a strong game and played with intensity.
A negative. Kane, oh my god, shoot the puck on net dammit. I can not believe how many times he tried to force a pass when the shot was available. Especially given your history with Loungo, get shots to the net. Get the rebound. I almost broke through my wall on one of his chances to shoot.
Again, I want to reiterate that the Hawks hit the post a lot. Not only that, but they missed some clear opportunities. This game is easily a Hawks win even with the first period outing. Im not sure how Campbell, Sharp and Frolik did not leave this game with goals, but it happened, and Luongo earned his shutout.
Crawford put together a great finish after allowing the only 2 goals of the game, so no issues there. A breakaway and a tip were his demise and those are not the worst goals to let in. I am pretty confident in saying that this series will see a great deal of goals. The pace was fast and this will undoubtedly favor the Hawks at some point. This will be a long series.
As has been mentioned on this site, the Hawks live and die by Toews. He has to be a larger factor in game 2, but again, my attention is on Hossa to be better. He had Campoli all alone backdooor on the PP and he tried to stuff it on his own. The defense was strong, but not the difference. Two important factors to this series is just that, and Hossa being bigger than he has in past postseasons.
Game 2, come out stronger and get a few on Luongo. See what that does to his performance from then on. Things that need to happen. I really want to see Stalberg and Bickell earn their keep. Both strong skaters and big bodies, they need to answer some of the physical play handed out by Vancouver. Their roles need to be defined to them and hopefully they can bring it a bit more. The Hawks do not have to be a huge physical team, but this game was asking for a little kick-back. That, and lets park some bodies in front of Luongo. I feel like this was Vancouver's best and the Hawks were okay. Just history repeating itself.