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.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.