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.