Along the boards: Blackhawks take care of Oilers in Game 1

  

The Blackhawks entered Saturday’s action poised to steal a game early against the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Play-In Best-of-5 series. Aside from Wednesday night’s exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues, this was Chicago’s first meaningful game since March 11 when NHL action was paused due to COVID-19. 

The Blackhawks needed a great game in Game 1 to have any chance against the Edmonton Oilers. Fans sat in anticipation as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews looked to take down two of the league’s best in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid

Despite the Blackhawks understanding the importance of this game, they proceeded to take a terrible penalty in the game’s first minute and a half. A too many men penalty sent the Oilers top powerplay unit into action. As many probably expected, Connor McDavid tallied from the left wing side of the ice to give the home team the early 1–0 lead. 

After about six minutes of play, the Hawks’ second line had a golden opportunity. After Kane was denied on a point blank chance following an Oscar Klefbom turnover, Mike Smith mishandled the puck behind the net and right to Dylan Strome. Strome banked the puck off of Smith as he returned to his crease and tied the game for the visitors. 

Not too long after Strome tallied the tying mark, he preceded to draw a penalty and send the Hawks to the power play. Edmonton pushed Patrick Kane into the right wing corner, knowing he was the focal point of the power play. However, the puck squeaked out of the corner and onto the stick of Dominik Kubalik, who found Jonathan Toews wide open on a backhand pass. Toews finished top shelf against Smith and gave the Hawks the lead. 

In what seemed to be a momentum shift, the Blackhawks struck again. This time, a point shot from Olli Maatta was tipped in front of Smith by Brandon Saad. The puck changed direction so much that it would have been difficult to stop. The tally gave the Blackhawks an early two goal lead against the favored Oilers. 

Hockey players always say momentum is a real thing. Well, the momentum was in favor of the Blackhawks because they were not stopping. The top line forechecked hard against the McDavid line and Brandon Saad pressured McDavid into a turnover. Kubalik found the puck and dished it to the captain who buried his second (yes, second) goal of the game and gave the Hawks a 4–1 lead early in this game.

The Blackhawks carried the momentum through the whole entire opening frame. The Oilers looked asleep, and Chicago was trying to put their foot on Edmonton’s hypothetical throats in this game. They had to keep it up in order to hold on though, as the Oilers still have so much fire power. 

The teams opened the second period and Edmonton found some sense of urgency. About four minutes into the period, the Oilers were able to get a goal back on the power play. Leon Draisaitl tapped home a McDavid pass after some chaos around the blue paint. Corey Crawford was a little slow to get back to his crease, leaving an open net. 

However, the Blackhawks found a way to get one back. After a Darnell Nurse penalty, Duncan Keith tee’d up Domink Kubalik for a beautiful one-timer on the right wing boards. Kubalik finished off the feed for his first goal of the day and his fourth point of the game to regain the Blackhawks’ three-goal lead. Mike Smith subsequently was pulled in favor of Mikko Koskinen after Kubalik’s one-timer.

After plenty of back and forth action, the Blackhawks added to their already impressive lead. On the power play, yet again, Dominik Kubalik tipped a Keith shot from the point past Koskinen with about two minutes and change left in the period. The goal was Kubalik’s second goal and fifth point of the day.

As action entered the third, both teams were quiet on the score sheet. With three and a half minutes remaining, the Oilers pulled Koskinen in favor of the extra attacker. The strategy worked twice for Edmonton in the span of about 35 seconds, as James Neal hammered home a puck in a scrum in front of Crawford, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied on a tip of a point shot. 

Despite Patrick Kane’s empty-net goal being overturned, the Blackhawks held on to win 6–4 over the favored Oilers. It was quite a game from the #12 seed Blackhawks, and the game certainly gave fans hope of what is to come.

Around the boards

It was nice seeing the Blackhawks enact some revenge on Mike Smith, who is almost 100% responsible for eliminating Chicago from the playoffs back in 2012. Today, the Blackhawks got Smith for five goals, and fans loved seeing him leave the game after the Kubalik one-timer on the power play. 

The Oilers did not look fast today; multiple Blackhawks players, including Toews, Saad, and Kubalik, made Edmonton look slow. Much of that was due to the Oilers not looking ready to play. However, instead of the Blackhawks playing down to Edmonton’s level today, they took their energy through the roof and were able to keep the Oilers in a bad situation for almost the entire game. 

Yeah, I felt that way too. I think most Blackhawks fans felt that way today after they brutally outplayed the Oilers. The key moving forward is for Chicago to keep that up. If they can sustain that level of offense, they could steal this series against Edmonton. If I’m one of the leaders on the team, I’m feeling good and letting guys feel confident, but reminding guys this is only game one, they need to win two more before they can truly experience real playoff hockey. 

The Blackhawks and Oilers will be back on NBCSN on Monday, August 3. The game is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. CDT.

Center Ice Forums Along the boards: Blackhawks take care of Oilers in Game 1

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  • #17530
    Ron Luce
    Moderator

    The Blackhawks entered Saturday’s action poised to steal a game early against the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Play-In Best-of-5 series. Aside from Wedn[To continue reading full article, click here: Around the boards: Blackhawks take care of Oilers in Game 1]

    #17532
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Great point about the Hawks not playing down to the Oilers. This has been a problem forever.  …… Their determination showed to me by having very muted celebrations after each goal.  Very matter of factly, head down on to the next shift.

    Thought Crawford and possession were keys to the series.  Hawks showed great possession vs the Blues and if that carried over good chance they draft 15th. Hawks somehow found out how to stay structured and it’s really showing in possession and that was a big reason for the win.

    4th line is spending a lot of time in the Ozone and I saw them out v McDavid on more than a few shifts.   Haven’t looked at the fancies but my eye says Kaner sucked as did that line with Strome and Nylander. They had to get killed in Corsi. A  handful of plays ended on Kaner’s stick…….. Why did Colliton answer with that line after a goal against?  It allowed the Oil to keep momentum.

    Hawks clubbed em 5 on 5 and now we see why they got even a Maatta who can skate an NHL shift. Add De Haan  and Murphy for the same reason and Keith doesn’t have to skate 28:00 and all a sudden you simply have capable players slotted correctly.  Structure and few breakdowns are a result.

    Long way from over but the clown show in their end has not been seen.  Big part of that is getting pucks out and then keeping possession.  So far so good if you’re rooting for them to try their luck in the next rd.

    #17535
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    How’d the 4th line do in this game?

    Kampf was on the ice at evens for 8:00 vs McDavid and 4:36 vs Draisaitl. Carpenter 6:43 vs McD and 4:04 vs Drai. Highmore 6:13 vs McD and 4:13 vs Drai.

    Toews 2:13 vs McD and 2:46 vs Drai. …….. Colliton matched the 4th line up vs two of the best on earth allowing Toews’ line to have fresh legs to attack the Ozone.

    No, the 4th line lost the fancies battle vs McD and Leon but it allowed the Toews line to destroy the Oil.

    #17537
    Under Qs moustache
    Participant

    How’d the 4th line do in this game? Kampf was on the ice at evens for 8:00 vs McDavid and 4:36 vs Draisaitl. Carpenter 6:43 vs McD and 4:04 vs Drai. Highmore 6:13 vs McD and 4:13 vs Drai. Toews 2:13 vs McD and 2:46 vs Drai. …….. Colliton matched the 4th line up vs two of the best on earth allowing Toews’ line to have fresh legs to attack the Ozone. No, the 4th line lost the fancies battle vs McD and Leon but it allowed the Toews line to destroy the Oil.

    An excellent point missed by the talking heads on the broadcast. Simply put the Hawks out worked the Oilers for most of the game, as the only time the Oilers had the game in their hands was with the man advantage early and late in the game.

    Toews Kubalik Saad had pretty much free rein the whole game. I expect Tips to have an answer to that tomorrow night, and we’ll see a better prepared Edmonton team from the first puck drop. Now Crow has to keep them in the contest the rest of the way, as the free ice will diminish as is usual in the playoffs. He didn’t have too much traffic infront of him in game one, that will change too.

    Neither team was physical, and that’s not the style of either of them, but we can see that ramp up if the Oilers are down midway in game 2.

    The Hawks have little to lose here, and are playing loose. It is possible that the first line with Saad and Kuby winging for 19 is finally the answer to the departed Hossa. Kaner will not be kept silent for the whole series, nor will ElGato, but some concern here as neither was on their game. If Tippet choses to check Toews that could leave some room for Kane and DeBrindcat, so this series will have a few twists to it before game 5(if needed).

    Never underestimate the Oilers ability to underperform when the spotlight is hot. This is a good regular season team, but the playoffs are different; high scoring teams don’t always get the chances to score when the play tightens up. See San Jose and Tampa for examples. The Hawks hold the edge in net and in playoff experience. Thats big in a short series

    #17541
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Stache, I do the free link thing so I don’t have to listen to Doc or Foley so I listened to the EDM feed and they were very much onto how well the Hawk 4th line played. I thought that was an easy eye test one…..  Also mentioned the Oil do not want to get into a track meet with the Hawks. They wanna see the Oil get it in and cycle.   They love Dach as well in a big way.

    Simply said when your 4th line C takes 8 of McDavid’s 19 even strength minutes you are doing a lot of things right and you have to credit the coaches for that too. Not just for having the balls to do it but putting together scheme to make it work.

    I could go on and on but have to keep coming back to the structure. It’s allowing them to exit in control which allows speed thru the neutral zone which allows either an odd man or possession once in. And I have to believe the structure is coming from reasonable choices on the back end between players who can competently skate an NHL shift.  No, it’s not a cup winning 8 man rotation but when you have a 2 time cup winning Maatta on the 3rd pair and the semblance of a shut down pairing in Murphy and De Haan you free Keith from idiot hard minutes to where he can be paired with and cover for a Boqvist.

    As JJ rightly always mentiones it’s a domino effect and the 4th line taking half of McD’s 5 on 5 minutes and a bunch of Leons allows Toews’, or Kane’s, line to play fresh leg minutes vs a 3rd or 4th line centerman.  …….. Indeed, a big domino effect on many fronts that are converging to make the Hawks look like an NHL team and even a dangerous one.

    And in the back of my head I wonder if the vets have finally bought into Colliton’s systems/vision 100% cuz this group does not resemble the one we saw in Game 40 this yr, injuries aside.

     

    #17542
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    And one more thing, the PP.  I’m noticing that Dach is giving the Hawks’ 1st unit a solid option on entries and Boqvist on the 2nd unit.  Kid is so big, strong with that freaky reach he’s tough to deny coming in and once in he makes a good first choice and boom, they’re set up and in control.  His big body with good hands parked in the slot is huge but so are his entries.

    Boqvist too has the IQ and feet to get the thing in. …………… This keeps up and we’re gonna see some ink given to Colliton and is he legit.  Right now he’s pulling the right strings personnel wise and the results are speaking for themselves.

    #17543
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    And, rereading your post Stache indeed Tippet ain’t no dummy and he’s gonna have plenty of tweaks for young Colliton and a Hawk team that is the youngest still playing.  Part of the reason playoff hockey is the very best sport on earth.

    Lotta hockey left but I’m slowly coming around to the hawks not getting a chance at that #1 pick even though I’m still hoping for it.

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