Basics the Focus in Game 2
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals is upon us Saturday night as the Chicago Blackhawks look to take a 2 – 0 series lead after a triple-overtime winner on Wednesday night at the United Center.
Chicago came out fast and hard, which may not necessarily benefit the President’s Trophy winners in the long run. The Hawks play best when speed is on their side – it exhausts the opponent’s defense and shows the true depth of Chicago’s roster. Niklas Hjalmarsson, who typically will take a hit to make a play, opted for hitting David Krejci into the boards behind Crawford instead of playing the puck. This decision led directly to a goal from Milan Lucic. Chicago scaled back the physicality and focuses more on speed and shooting, allowing the Hawks to catch the Bruins and force overtime.
Boston entered the United Center raring to go – and could you blame them? They had just swept the team that everyone called to be the best. And they played like that in the first and second periods, especially in the faceoff circle. The Bruins dominated the faceoff dot in the first period and continued to do so in the second. But Chicago rallied back and wound up nearly evening up the faceoffs by the end of triple-overtime. Still, faceoffs are incredibly important and will contribute to the eventual winner of Game 2.
Duncan Keith must feel like he never leaves the ice, especially after he plays over 48 minutes of ice time in Game 1. He led all skaters in ice-time in Game 1 and continues to be a workhorse for Chicago. Keith, though, is expected to log a lot of time on the ice as a defenseman. Patrick Kane, on the other hand, spent a long time on the ice for a forward and looked hungry for a goal. He logged 4 takeaways but was still a minus 1 rating in Game 1. He’ll be looking for more ice time in Game 2 Saturday night and some better looks at Rask.
Tuukka Rask was glorious Wednesday night for Boston. He took away lanes and looked on top of his game. On the final two goals from both Oduya and Shaw’s triple-overtime winner, Rask was there to make the save but deflections took him down. On Oduya’s goal, Andrew Ference’s skate was the deflector that resulted in the puck going into the net and tying the game. Tough to blame Rask on that one. Still, the aggressive defending of Boston benefited Chicago on a few occasions, and that’s something the Hawks would like to see happen more often.
Corey Crawford was excellent for Chicago, keeping them in the game on several key occasions to allow for Shaw’s triple-overtime goal. He had been beaten a few times in OT but was saved by his good buddy, the post. Boston has multiple chances to take a victory but Crawford was up for the challenge. He continues to “wow” us all on the ice and is the anchor for Chicago in this series.
Nathan Horton, who was injured in Game 1, has been confirmed to play in Game 2 by Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien Saturday afternoon.
The keys to a Blackhawks win are:
- Faceoff wins – puck possession time gives a significant advantage
- Cash in on the Power Play – the Hawks had a 5-on-3 opportunity and failed to convert. PK only goes so far (especially when it kills two for the same penalty in overtime)
- Shots – any chance to take a shot at Rask must be taken. He made 63 saves in Game 1 but deflections and screens did him in. Any shot on net is a good shot on net.
Game 2 coverage begins at 7 p.m. CT on NBCSN.