There were a few numbers that jumped out in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
The power play’s 0-for outing was one of those numbers, but we’ve been through that extensively. The other one is the blocked shots: the Ducks had 27 of them. From the Ducks’ perspective, they were willing to sacrifice and keep Frederik Andersen from seeing a good deal of shot. On the Blackhawks’ side it showed that, despite scoring with traffic and ugly goals in Game 2, they went back to the outside in Game 3.
Either the Blackhawks got away from from what worked for them on Thursday or the Ducksprevented them from getting in Andersen’s comfort zone. Either way, the Blackhawks weren’t as up close as they could have been.
“I think last night played a little too much on the perimeter, trying to make too many plays,” Brandon Saad said. “I think when we delay the play, wait to find the perfect shot, they get a chance to get in the lane. The more we force it to the net, make quick plays, it's going to be to our advantage.”
The Blackhawks have had even-strength, goal-scoring issues thus far in this series. They have just three in three games; they have just five goals total, the other two being on the power play.
“They're playing great [defensive] zone coverage, blocking shots. It just means we've got to battle a little bit harder,” Andrew Shaw said. “Get pucks in the net, find ways, get traffic there as well [and] we're going to have those opportunities.”
Cam Fowler led the Ducks with five blocked shots on Thursday night. Clayton Stoner and Francois Beauchemin each had four. The Ducks, as a team, have 215 blocked shots; 84 of those have come in three games vs. the Blackhawks. Again, it’s a combination of the Ducks’ throwing bodies in front of Blackhawks shots, too many of which are coming from too far out.
“We've always done it here,” said Stoner. “It's kind of a culture around here that everybody sacrifices, whether you're the top player or a fourth-line guy. Doesn't really matter, everybody is willing to sacrifice.”
One of the challenges with the Ducks is their size. They’re going to be physical. They’re also going to do everything possible to keep the Blackhawks from getting inAndersen’s way. For two of three games, the Blackhawks haven’t gotten to the net enough. Their perimeter game was too prevalent and ineffective in Game 3. The Ducks have the blocks to prove it.
“Not only do we have to get in front of [Andersen] and bang in rebounds, they're blocking shots, playing a good defensive game in front of him. On top of a great goaltender, that's a tough team to score on,” Saad said. “You see where we have stints of it; I think in Game 2 with Shawzy in front of the net, Kruger in front of the net. We have to get more competitive in front of the net to bang in rebounds.”