As the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks knew going into their first-round matchup against the No. 1 seed Vegas Golden Knights that it would be an uphill battle.
The Blackhawks dropped Game 1 on Tuesday night in a tight-checking game, which wasn’t what we’re used to seeing when these two teams collide. The final score (4-1) and shots on goal (34-20) made it seem like a more lopsided effort than it actually was, but that's not to say the Blackhawks were the better team.
The Golden Knights deserved to win, but there were some positives for the Blackhawks. There were also negatives.
Let's break down the good and bad from Game 1:
Good: Three of the Blackhawks four lines outchanced the Golden Knights during 5-on-5 action for a combined scoring chance differential of plus-5, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Bad: The one line that didn’t was Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, which got outchanced 10-3.
Good: The Blackhawks gave up seven high-danger chances at even strength against a Vegas team that generated 10.8 per game during the regular season.
Bad: The Blackhawks had only four high-danger chances of their own, which was their third-fewest total of the season.
Good: The Golden Knights, who rank No. 2 in even-strength shot attempts from the slot off the rush with 7.53, were held to only four rush chances, according to Sportlogiq.
Bad: The Blackhawks, who rank No. 3 in even-strength shot attempts from the slot off the rush with 7.40, had only three rush chances of their own.
Good: The Golden Knights had 6:26 of offensive zone possession time. For reference, the Oilers had 8:49 against the Blackhawks in Game 4.
Bad: The Blackhawks were held to only 5:25 of offensive zone possession time.
Good: The Blackhawks generated nine scoring chances and four high-danger chances during 4:06 of power-play time.
Bad: Only four of their 12 shot attempts hit the net, and none of them went in.
Good: The Blackhawks lost but hung with the Golden Knights for the majority of the game — two of the four goals allowed by Corey Crawford were ones he normally stops.
Bad: The Golden Knights won despite not playing their best.
The conclusion is, the Blackhawks didn't play bad enough to lose. But they didn't play well enough to win, either. The Golden Knights simply stuck to their defensive structure and never gave the Blackhawks an opportunity to take control of the game.
If the Blackhawks want to make this a competitive series, they have to go out and take it. Because this Golden Knights team isn't going to make the same defensive mistakes that the Edmonton Oilers made in the qualifying round that allowed the Blackhawks to make them pay.
"We expect a tight series, we expect it to be a grind, we expect to face adversity," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We did that and we were right there. But we’re going have to find way to win some of these games, but we’re going to have to put ourselves in that position as well. We just have to stick with it; they did it a little bit longer than us. That’s the message."