Consider this a public service announcement, for those of you who are relatively new to the Stanley Cup Playoffs or are unfamiliar with its insane momentum swings.
No matter how what you think of this year’s version of the Blackhawks, there will be moments in this postseason where the team you see on the ice will fail to resemble an NHL-caliber squad. There will be baffling mistakes made by your favorite players, regardless of how good they’ve been in their careers. There will be times where you will want to turn off the TV. There will be instances that lead you to share similar thoughts on social media.
Don’t do it.
Don’t even think about it.
Because as bad as the Hawks are going to look for 10, 15, or 20-minute stretches, there could always be a monumental turn of events waiting on the other side. And if you didn’t learn that tonight, I don’t know how you’re ever going to learn.
That first period was a throwback to all the low points of the back half of the Blackhawks’ regular season schedule. There was Michal Roszival getting burned by Colin Wilson for an open look at the net which he buried. Then there was Andrew Shaw taking a silly penalty. Then there was Corey Crawford getting stuck behind the net and allowing Viktor Stalberg the only type of net he can actually score on. By the end of the first period, it was a 3-0 deficit for the Hawks.
A new goalie in Scott Darling appeared to wake up the Hawks, and an incredible pass from Teuvo Teravainen to a perfectly-positioned Niklas Hjalmarsson started the comeback. A pair of power play goals tied the game by the end of the second.
The aforementioned Darling then stole the show for the next 30 minutes, making some incredible saves that kept the Hawks in the game.
Then, well into the second overtime, Brandon Saad won a board battle, the puck ended up on the stick of Duncan Keith, and he buried a slapper to end Game 1 in a 4-3 Hawks victory.
An incredible come-from-behind win for the Hawks to open the 2015 postseason, and a brutal loss for a Nashville team whose confidence cannot be high after blowing a three-goal lead while entering the postseason on a 6-game losing streak.
Some extra notes from the game:
I’d wager a healthy sum that Corey Crawford will be your goalie in Game 2. Let’s not forget about the impressive numbers he posted in the regular season. His 2.27 goals-against average and .924 save percentage are right in line with the numbers posted by Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, who’s widely regarded as one of the best goalies in the league. Crawford had a first period to forget—the goal allowed to Stalberg in particular—but you can NOT give up on Crawford yet. Not after the regular season numbers he posted, and not after the performances he’s had in the last two postseasons. Scott Darling’s performance was masterful and just adds another layer of depth to this Blackhawks team.
Another encouraging sign from Game 1: The Blackhawks power play was 2-for-5. And, well, there’s a pretty simple explanation for that.
It was especially nice to see Kane back on the ice. His offensive skills take the Hawks to a whole new level. But if that Blackhawks power play can become a reliable contributor to the offense without the penalty kill missing a step, it’s going to be tough for any team to beat the Hawks in a 7-game series.
Go get some rest. You’ll need it for Game 2.
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