Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 1: Blackhawks need more traffic again

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Five Things from Game 1: Blackhawks need more traffic again

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks have been here enough not to let one loss get them too concerned.

Still, they’ll head into Game 2 of the Western Conference Final in a very unfamiliar position this postseason: trailing in a series. But, these things happen. So before we head out for the day let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Anheim Ducks.

1. David Rundblad struggles in his playoff debut. When Michal Rozsival went down in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild, the Blackhawks’ lack of depth at defense was suddenly exposed. Rundblad had a forgettable first playoff game on Sunday, from his clearing attempt near the blue line in the first period to his bad pass near the net in the second period. Both plays resulted in Ducks goals. We’ll hit more on this defensive issue in a separate story but there’s no doubt those mistakes were critical.

2. Missed opportunities on the power play. Yes, this is the broken record that is playing again, and we’re looking specifically at the early third period this time. Brad Richards had just gotten the Blackhawks back into it with a late second-period goal and the Blackhawks had two power plays in the first five-plus minutes of the third. They didn’t score on either of them. Part of that was Frederik Andersen coming up with big stops, including one on Brandon Saad on the first power play. Coach Joel Quenneville called it “the turning point” with the Blackhawks not even getting momentum off the power plays. Asked about the advantage, Patrick Kane said, “it could be better, for sure.”

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3. Andersen plays well again. The Ducks goaltender was a bit of a wildcard entering this round. Sure, he played great vs. the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, but how would he handle the onslaught from the Blackhawks? He did just fine in Game 1, from his unreal stick save on Kane to the other 31 stops he made en route to another playoff victory. Said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau of Andersen, “I think he's getting more confidence. He's played through two rounds now. He's seen the pressure that comes with it. He's had a long time to get ready for this game.”

4. Blackhawks need more traffic again. Yes, Andersen was good, there’s no denying that. But Quenneville said the Blackhawks could have gotten in his way a lot more than they did on Sunday. “Kaner had a great look early and [Andersen] got some excitement to his game. But we’re more successful when he has a hard time trying to see through screens and second layers,” Quenneville said. “They blocked a lot of shots too. We need quicker shot selections and more bodies at the net, get one [goal] and go from there.”

5. Ducks get the secondary scoring. Look at the Game 1 score sheet and you don’t see the big names much. Kyle Palmieri scored the game winner. Nate Thompson’s goal gave the Ducks a 3-1 lead. Both are part on Ducks’ third line. That’s what you need at this time of year because, as it’s been said before, the top two lines sometimes cancel each other out. It was just one game but it shows the Ducks have solid forward depth.

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks brought Andrew Shaw back to Chicago because they lacked some bite to their game. He's already meeting expectations in the physicality department, leading the team with 23 hits.

But the other part of his game the Blackhawks have to live with is the amount of penalties he takes. Through six games this season, Shaw has taken at least one penalty in five of them and is tied for third among all NHL skaters with six minors. The only two skaters above him are guys who have played in two and four more games, respectively.

Because he plays on the edge, Shaw will occasionally cross it and he's trying to find that balance between toeing the line and not stepping over it.

"I find if I'm not playing on the edge, I'm not playing great," Shaw said. "I need to play physical. Even in preseason, I was just finishing checks — clean, shoulder-to-shoulder — and was getting penalty after penalty. Hockey still is a physical game. There's still hitting; it's still legal. So I'm going to go out there and play hard, make it hard on my opponents, make it hard on them physically, do what I do. Not going to change who I am now. I'm an old dog."

Shaw's reputation may also contribute to the matter. He's racked up more than 600 penalty minutes in his NHL career, including postseason, and the officials might be keeping a closer eye on him when he's on the ice.

"It's something he's got to be aware of, but I also think he's got a bullseye on him," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "If I go back through all the penalties he's taken, he probably earned a couple and he probably earned them five years ago. That's something he's got to deal with. We want him to play hard. I think we can handle the ones where he's running people over. We'll kill those off. Obviously the stick penalties and stuff we don't want. But he's playing hard for the team. That's a good thing."

Said Shaw: "The referees, no matter the history of the player, should call the game as it is. If there's a penalty, call a penalty. If there's not a penalty, you let it go. I mean, yeah, I might have been too vocal in my younger days. But the past three years I've been trying to clean it up a little bit. I just take my penalties when I get 'em. But I must have dug myself a really deep hole. Just trying to climb out of it since."

Still, Shaw knows he has to be smarter about the timing of his penalties and where they're happening. The ones that occur in the offensive zone are the penalties that must be eradicated from his game. The ones he earns from battling between the whistles and sticking up for his teammates, the Blackhawks can live with those.

"Obviously I don't want to take penalties, I don't want to put my team down," Shaw said. "I also don't agree with all of the ones I got. I think I got the short end of the stick on a lot of them. Bite my tongue, go to the box. Our PK's been working hard and competing and killing some penalties. Hopefully they start going my way, I guess."

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

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USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his third start of the season.

Lehner is coming off a game in which he stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .949, which earned him the No. 3 star of the game in a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. He was fantastic. 

Lehner is 1-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two starts this season.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.