Sunday, May 17, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks at Ducks
4-1 Game 1 Loss Recap

by Patrick Stankus

After a 10 day layoff, the Blackhawks finally got back to work in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday afternoon. For the third straight year, the Hawks faced a team from southern California in the Western Conference Finals, however this time it is the Anaheim Ducks. Heading into the series, both teams were faced with extended layoffs from their previous series' as the Hawks wrapped up their last series with the Wild in 4 games, and the Ducks in 5 games over the Flames. Would rust be a factor, or would the added rest help both teams? Only time will tell.

Once the 2pm start finally got underway, more like 2:20pm, the Hawks came out using their speed to their advantage. It worked early on as noted dickbag Corey Perry took a lazy, dumb, slashing penalty on Patrick Kane just over a minute in. The Hawks had a chance to silence the Ducks crowd by scoring an early goal, but even with a 10 day break, the power play was the same old song and dance. Later in the period off a Ryan Getzlaf turnover, Patrick Kane had Frederik Andersen down and out, but Andersen made a desperation stick save to deny Kane. Just prior to the midway point of the period, Anaheim would strike first. Following a stumble at the blueline by David Rundblad, the Ducks would get in the zone, and as Rundblad was getting into position in front of the net, he was hit from behind, resulting in a screen of Corey Crawford as a shot from the point by Hampus Lindholm was coming in and beat Crawford. As the period wore on, the Hawks were dominating the Ducks, but still couldn't beat Andersen, and faced a 1-0 deficit after the 1st period.

Early in the second period, it appeared that the Ducks had found their legs, and had a bit more jump to their step. Just under 5 minutes into the period, David Rundblad had a weak clearing attempt that failed to clear the zone, and as is always the case, Kyle Palmieri of the Ducks found the back of the net, to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead early in the second. As bad as Rundblad was early in this game, he did make a nice play to deny a Ducks wraparound to keep the score at 2-0. Midway through the period, the Hawks were forced to kill off a Niklas Hjalmarsson tripping penalty, in which the PK did come through. In the final minute of the second, Brad Richards picked off a Francois Beauchemin clearing attempt, and beat Andersen to cut the Ducks lead in half. As the horn sounded, the score would be 2-1 in favor of the Ducks.

As the third period began, the Hawks were riding the momentum of the late second period goal by Brad Richards. Instead of weathering that storm, the Ducks tried to hand the Hawks the game by taking two penalties in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the period. To no one's surprise, the Hawks power play couldn't come through when the team needed it. Two failed power play changes later, and the Ducks had all the momentum and jump to their step the rest of the way. Just past the 12 minute mark, Nate Thompson hammered home a rebound from an Andrew Cogliano shot to put the Ducks up 3-1. The Hawks never really mounted any type of urgency down the stretch, and Anaheim was able to capitalize and add an empty netter to give them a Game 1 win by the score of 4-1.

The Annoying
- The chants of "Crawford, Crawford, Crawford" are just plain annoying. We heard it in Minnesota, so very original Ducks fans. Oh and if this is your way of showing Jets fans that you have a very, very, very small passionate fanbase, after their chants of "Katy Perry" towards Corey Perry, that's weak sauce.
- Apparently EVERY national hockey writer is not aware that the Hawks have been rolling with 4 1/2 defensemen all post season long. Good God, find something else to bring up.

The Good
- I really don't have any complaints about how the Hawks started this game. For a team with a 10 day layoff, they didn't look out of whack, until they were on the power play. Which that should surprise none of us. The failure though to score when they had the Ducks on their heels in the 1st period is what cost them the game.
- Old Man River, Brad Richards, had a nice pick off of a Beauchemin clearing attempt, which resulted in him scoring late in the 2nd period, and gave the Hawks a glimmer of hope.
- It pains me to say it, but Frederik Andersen was excellent for the Ducks.

The Bad
- David Rundblad certainly didn't have a game to remember. Early on he found himself on the ice for the Ducks first two goals. The first wasn't all on him, but he did have a fumble at the blueline that allowed the Ducks to enter the zone. However on that same goal, its a fair question to ask "what the hell was Duncan Keith doing?" The second goal was a result of an extremely weak clearing attempt that was intercepted and found its way into the back of the Hawks net. Not a good start for your first playoff game. He did though have a nice play that broke up a Ducks wraparound in the 2nd period.
- Speaking of Duncan Keith, if were such a stat happy generation, than his -3 today should be pointed out.
- Corey Crawford wasn't bad, but he certainly wasn't great. You can't really fault him on the goals, but the third one was a glorious rebound he kicked out.

The Ugly
- The power play was just awful. It was a complete momentum killer for the Hawks. All in all, the PP ended the day 0 for 3.
- Seriously, you can't tell me at this point, you don't think Kyle Cumiskey is a better option than Kimmo Timonen. What is the point of dressing someone to only play them 5:15? At least Cumiskey could eat up some minutes.
- The Hawks had 16 shots in the first period, but had nothing to show for it at the end of the period. Point to that when you want to start talking about how this game was lost.
- I am convinced that the sight of Corey Perry's face is what causes people to vomit on the rides at Disneyland.


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