1. Power play must make a difference
The power play for the Blackhawks in Game 1 was not very good. After scoring power play goals in consecutive games to close out the Minnesota Wild (two goals on just three opportunities), this special team unit came up empty on Sunday. The first unit of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith were mostly ineffective. The second unit was better, but not by much. It’s not just goals we’re talking about, it’s momentum. The Ducks are the kind of team that likes to play with an edge. That aggressiveness is reined in when you have a power play that is getting shots and chances. It acts like a lion tamer. This wasn’t the case in Game 1, and in order for the Blackhawks to slow down a feisty Anaheim team, the power play has to be effective.
2. Finish plays
Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau stated in his postgame press conference that Chicago had eight good chances before the Ducks got their first. Maybe an overstatement, but not far from the truth. Aside from an early power play that was unproductive, Chicago got the start they wanted. They got pucks deep, got them back, and played with the kind of speed and aggressiveness that you hope for on the road. Unfortunately they came up empty after pouring 16 shots on Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen in the first period. Kane had the best look about five minutes in, and Andersen made the kind of save that happens for goalies maybe once every hundred games. But there were other chances too, and as well as Andersen played, the Hawks have to bear down when they get their looks. Get to the blue paint, pay the price, and make sure you’re finishing the “in close” plays.
3. Force the Ducks defense
Not a great possession numbers day for Anaheim in Game 1. Chicago fired a total of 70 shots towards the Ducks net — 33 hit the net, 22 more were blocked, and 15 were near misses — which is an amazing number in a road playoff game. But what jumped out to me were the number of turnovers (11) by Anaheim’s defense. A lot of these giveaways led to good scoring chances for the Hawks. Continue to force the issue with Anaheim’s D. Put pucks in areas where you can get them back, and put pressure on the back end of Anaheim.