Beat up an early Sunday afternoon puck drop for Game 1 of the WCF all you want, it would have been insane for the NHL to compete with the block of programming on TV last night.
Seriously, last night was stacked.
You had the finale for Mad Men, which was a big deal to many. (Not for me, though. I love arty TV and all, but at some point MM became Dudes in Suits Day Drinking and Wallowing in Self-Pity. Maybe I need to give it another shot, though?*)
There were also other sports to pick through … I hear people are bashing the LA Clippers instead of the Houston Rockets? Then there were fake sports like the WWE putting together a generic PPV.
Also, “Game of Thrones,” which presented an episode so heinous I was legitimately frazzled for an hour-plus. (The worst part of the frazzling is that I more or less knew the worst part was going to happen, I just didn’t want to accept that it actually would. George R.R. Martin is a sadist.)
Anyway, I critique the league quite a bit, but avoiding that onslaught of buzz-worthy TV was pretty smart, if that was the goal of their scheduling. Granted, it meant that the 2015 WHC gold-medal game was kind of an afterthought, but you can’t win ‘em all.
Let’s reap ‘Hawks - Ducks then, shall we?
DUCKS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1
-- Chicago really did carry the play early on, generating a 25-15 edge in SOG through the first two periods. Not sure how much that may have had to do with the score, though; Hampus Lindholm made it 1-0 about nine minutes into the game, so maybe that had some impact on Anaheim's aggressiveness? Not saying Bruce Boudreau's teams are all that liable to sit on leads, but still.
-- The Ducks really took over in the third, though, backing up their honestly kind of odd tendency to turn it up a notch or three in the final frame. That has to be in some way by design, right? At some point it can't just be a coincidence, can it be? Either way, they outscored the Blackhawks 2-0 (albeit with one funky empty-netter), generated a 12-8 shot disparity and shook off two successive 'Hawks PP opportunities to generally impress in the third.
-- The Blackhawks were reasonable not to be too down after this loss. Still, they got three PP opportunities to just one for Anaheim and played better in 2/3 periods. It has to be frustrating to lose a game in that fashion.
-- Frederik Andersen was the difference-maker, stopping 32 out of 33 shots. It's interesting that Andersen + John Gibson will only cost the Ducks about $2M in cap space next season. That fact alone makes me think that Anaheim is going to be a power in 2015-16.
-- Good for Kimmo Timonen to manage to play in the NHL this season, but he hasn't really been much more than a warm body for Chicago. He only played in 5:15 of game time in Game 1, getting zero special teams shifts. Between 16 regular season and 11 postseason contests, Timonen has zero points and an even rating (with 17 SOG and 10 PIM). He's been under 10 minutes in six of his last seven games and peaked at 12:18 TOI in the postseason.
Look, injuries have sort of forced this situation, but I wonder if Coach Q should maybe experiment a bit here. Could a scratched forward moonlight on D? Is there anyone they can plug in from the farm system?
-- A lot of the weight falls on Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook (along with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya). Keith's been hovering around 30 minutes for the best four games, but Seabrook saw in a two-minute bump in ice time from Game 4 against Minnesota and yesterday afternoon. Keith was a -3, which is certainly an unusual sight.
-- Jakob Silfverberg is an RFA. That was less relevant after a 39-point regular season, but it's worth noting now. He has 13 points in 10 games, tying him for second in scoring with luminaries Tyler Johnson, Patrick Kane and Ryan Getzlaf.
Silfverberg probably deserved better than the 13 goals he scored during the regular season, as he only connected on 6.9 percent of his 189 SOG.
-- Only 15:17 TOI for Corey Perry, but really, why risk his health with a lead? Boudreau may be wise to use Perry in specialist-type ways (heavy PP, lots of offensive zone starts), either way.
* - The Sopranos has been far more brilliant during my second attempt to get through that classic show, so maybe I’d warm up to cold callous Don Draper a second time around? Jon Hamm is a St. Louis Blues fan, so that’s kind of cool, right?