Blackhawks vs Coyotes Game One Recap
This is going to be a quick recap. Free form. Don’t think, just write.
- Welcome back Toews. Toews was arguably the Hawks best player in game one. He was good in battles. Had 2 points. Went to hard areas. The only part of his game that looked rusty was his faceoffs. Toews is normally the best in the league, and he didn’t have the success he is used to last night.
- The Coyotes first goal was absolute bullshit. A blown too many men call led to the first goal. What makes it even worse was that the puck would have cleared the zone, probably allowing the tired Hawks to change if the Coyotes chose not to play that puck. Hawks deserve some blame for that goal as well. Hjalmersson was a turnover machine in that one.
- The Coyotes second goal was a laser shot, but it never should have happened. Stalberg can’t just skate back watching the puck. He has to pick up the trailer. Mental lapse cost the Hawks the game.
- The Blackhawks special teams looked solid. They went 0-4 on the powerplay, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The zone entries were good. Puck movement was good. Got a few scoring chances. Won some battles to keep puck possession. A lot to like going forward. Next step is to capitalize. The powerplay has been awful this year, but that type of talent can’t be bad forever. Here is hoping they have taken a step in the right direction
- I think Sean O’Donnell needs to sit. I know he is the old grizzled vet. Whatever. They can’t afford to have a defenseman play only 10 minutes and still be a -2. Dylan Olsen has shown real promise at times this year. I think his skating and physical presence will help Hawks as they got badly out hit in game one. Nay-sayers will point out that Olsen has no playoff experience…well you can’t get playoff experience until someone gives you a chance. I think he is the better option at this point.
- The Blackhawks have to have better net presence in game 2. Mike Smith was far too comfortable in goal. He plays so deep in his net that long shots, tips, screens, and bad angle shots will be even more important than normal. The Hawks are going to need more ugly goals to beat the Coyotes. I am advocating another youthful player be inserted into the lineup. Jimmy Hayes needs to dress instead of Bruno. I like Bruno but he doesn’t bring enough to the table. Especially in a 4th line role.
- I think sex line needs to be broken up too. Sharp-Kruger-Stalberg just wasn’t effective enough. That has been a strong line down the stretch, but now the Hawks are full strength up front and need to balance their scoring a little.
- I would move Kane back to center. Play him with Hossa and either Stalberg, Kruger, or Hayes on the other wing. Kruger really struggled on draws and he and Kane had similar levels of success in the regular season on the dot. Kane is just a much more dynamic player at center. He gets the puck more, he has more space, more options, and he is a responsible player(+7 on the season on a bad defensive team when he himself wasn’t scoring like normal) despite what haters say about him. My lines for Game 2 would be Sharp-Toews-Stalberg, Hayes-Kane-Hossa, Bickell-Bolland-Shaw, Mayers-Kruger-Bollig. I would slide Kruger up and down the line up though until I found a line that works.
- Crawford was pretty solid. Looked a little leaky early, but found his game quickly. Crawford wasn’t challenged often, but made big saves when he had to. Hard to put any of the blame for Phoenix’s goals on Crow. Played well enough to win.
All in all…not the end of the world. Hawks controlled the play and Toews showed that he is healthy and a top 5 player in the game. Phoenix has home ice and those guys get paid too. A few adjustments and the Hawks should be fine going forward. I will stick with my prediction from the podcast of Hawks in 6, and I still like their chances to come out of the West.
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