ST. LOUIS – Good things were happening but the good finish wasn’t there. That’s pretty much the synopsis of the Blackhawks’ Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, a contest David Backes won about nine minutes into overtime.
As you can tell it’s late, we’re tired and we’re guessing you are too. So before we call it a night, we’ll give you something to read in the morning with our Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 1 loss to the Blues.
1. Andrew Ladd returns. The left wing went back to Chicago to be with his wife, who is expecting their third child. His wife did not give birth on Wednesday and Ladd got back to St. Louis in time to play in Game 1. For a guy who had a very busy travel day, Ladd looked good. He had an energy burst that made that first line look pretty strong, which is what the Blackhawks need. Said coach Joel Quenneville of Ladd, “I thought he had a heck of a game. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm. That line was dangerous.”
2. Two effective penalty kills. The Blues’ kill was big in the first period, nullifying a couple of Blackhawks opportunities, including 36 seconds of a 5-on-3. They did it with blocks and Brian Elliott stops. The Blackhawks’ kill wasn’t too shabby either, and an early second-period sequence reminded us all why the Blackhawks missed Marcus Kruger so much on it. On the other hand…
3. The power play could’ve been better. Again, both teams could say this. Quenneville was fine with the Blackhawks’ opportunities outside of their last one, and you can’t blame him. The Blackhawks got a power play just seven seconds into overtime, seven seconds into a new period with a fresh sheet of ice. They had the chance to do damage but instead the Blackhawks did nothing. They talked of finishing on chances. This was one that got away.
4. Corey Crawford’s OK. There was some question on how Crawford, out for nearly a month with an upper-body injury, would react to that first postseason game. The Blackhawks were strong in front of him, so he didn’t see many shots. But Crawford looked fine in Game 1, and only a carom off Trevor van Riemsdyk’s skate did him in. Did getting that final regular-season game in help Crawford? It didn’t look like it hurt him.
5. Keith is coming back. Well, the Blackhawks got through that one without him. The young defensemen got a good lesson at the end of the regular season and in this one, playing more minutes and in more critical situations. Now a rested Keith returns for Game 2 on Friday night. As you can imagine, his teammates are ready to welcome him back. “Yeah, it’s definitely a boost,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s obviously a great guy in the locker room and what he does on the ice obviously speaks for itself. So that’ll be a huge boost for us and we’ll be excited to have him back.”