After a thrilling 6-5 victory in Game 1 what can we expect from the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2? The answer we are looking for is nothing like we saw in Game 1.
Why is this you ask? Well its simple, while the Hawks scored 6 goals and got the victory, they also gave the Flyers hope and a confidence that they can skate and play with the best in the West. We all know the Flyers are not a team you want to keep close and let hang around, they have shown time and time again that when their backs are against the wall, and they are in striking distance they will capitalize on any mistakes.
In tonight’s game the Blackhawks must play a simple clean game. At times in Game 1 they tried to force it instead of dumping it, and at times in Game 1 they had little mental lapses that led to key Flyer chances. This was all to be expected though, a young team making their first finals appearance in 18 years with the whole city of Chicago on their shoulders, it is bound to happen.
What the Hawks need to do is clear their head of this game. It starts with Antti Niemi, Niemi has shown that after a bad game he usually steps his game up a notch and stands on his head, hopefully this is not needed and the Finnish Fortress just makes the saves he should. The next key component in this is the Defense. In Game 1 we saw a lot of pucks hanging around in the Flyers offensive zone, which led to a few goals. The Blackhawks must clear those pucks out, it doesn’t matter if its cleared for an icing, just as long as the Flyers can’t get a clean shot on them.
On the offensive side, well its hard to argue with anything they did in Game 1. When your top line goes a combined -9, and you still put up 6 goals and get a win, its been a good day at the office. Speaking of the top line, you can guarantee you won’t see a repeat performance. Jonathan Toews is too good of a leader and too much of a competitor for something like that to happen again.
Three Keys To The Game:
Stop the point shots: In Game 1 the Flyers had their way when it came to shots from the point. Time after time we saw a shot come from the point get blocked, only to find its way back to point for another shot. Chicago needs to get in front of these shots closer to the blue line, and not allow them to get through to Niemi.
Penalties: The Hawks can not take bad penalties like they did in Game 1. The hit by Adam Burish was not necessary, and he is lucky he did not get a Game Misconduct along with a suspension. While some of the calls were ticky tacky and could have gone either way, it falls on the Hawks shoulders to not put themselves in those situations.
Michael Leighton’s Five Hole: With Michael Leighton in net for the Flyers the Hawks will once again look to expose his five hole. As we saw on the Dave Bolland short handed goal, it does not take a lot to get one through. Look for the Hawks to get bodies in front and try for deflections down low.