Along the Boards: Vegas outclasses Chicago 4–1 in series opener

  

After goaltender Robin Lehner was traded to Vegas from Chicago at the trade deadline in February, not many Blackhawks fans expected to face off against the Swedish native during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially in August. However, one pandemic later, Chicago is “officially” in the playoffs for the first time since the 2016–17 season, leaving Lehner to see the “awkward” moment between himself and his former team.

Chicago made the simple decision of starting two-time Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford, creating a great storyline amongst former goalkeepers.

First period

Midway through the first period, both teams threw four shots on net, none that would be considered a high scoring chance. Vegas played a quick game early, only to be matched by Chicago’s well-structured start. This was a best-case scenario for the Blackhawks, as Vegas could play a heavy game at times that the Blackhawks would not match.

As Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire mentioned a few different times during the broadcast, this period was a “feeling out” process for both teams. At the end of the first period, Vegas led in shots 9–5, holding Chicago without a shot for over a nine-minute stretch toward the end of the frame.

Second period

Chicago started the period with a few early chances by Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, both whom brushed the pipe behind Lehner. Strome’s attempt came as Lehner lost a skate blade, forcing the former Vezina Trophy finalist to make an awkward attempt on the shot.

The uneventful period turned a little physical between teams, as Ryan Reaves played his physical style and Toews and Jonathan Marchessault tussled along the benches as Toews was not happy about being pinned along the open door along the bench.

Things picked up quickly after the 7:22 mark of the period, as Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore scored the first goal of the game after firing a wrist shot past the glove of Crawford for a 1–0 Golden Knights lead. Theodore’s third goal of the playoffs was assisted by forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Alec Martinez.

Just over two minutes later, Vegas forward William Carrier bulled himself to the net, shoving Chicago forward Matthew Highmore to the ice, and pounced home a rebound shot from Reaves from the corner. The goal, Carrier’s second of the postseason, was assisted by Reaves and center Nicolas Roy, doubling the gap to 2–0. Chicago’s bench boss Jeremy Colliton challenged the play for offside only to be awarded a two-minute penalty when the goal was upheld.

While shorthanded, Chicago forward Brandon Saad made an excellent play stripping the puck from Theodore and finding forward David Kampf, who beat Lehner glove side, cutting the Vegas lead to 2–1. The goal gave Kampf his first goal of the postseason.

At the end of the period, Vegas led 2–1 on the scoreboard and 21–14 in shots. Chicago was lucky to find the back of the net while shorthanded since Vegas clamped down on the Blackhawks in their own zone for much of the first two periods of play.

Third period

Vegas extended their lead to 3–1 when Smith beat Crawford for his first goal of the postseason. Crawford made a half-hearted attempt at a blocker save only to find the puck bounce over his shoulder and into the net. The “soft” goal was an early backbreaker for the Blackhawks.

After some end-to-end action, Smith scored his second goal of the period at the 8:14 mark of the period. The Etobicoke, Ontario, native beat Crawford with a slick backhand over the glove hand of Crawford on a break to the net. The goal extended the Vegas lead to 4–1 and showed the top seed in the Western Conference could turn up the heat on the Blackhawks in a blink of an eye.

At the end of the day, the only thing that was “awkward” about the matchup between Lehner and his former mates occurred when he lost his skate blade on two separate occasions. Vegas played a simple game and forced Chicago to generate their own offensive chances, which the eighth-seeded team could not accomplish. Vegas did not make many mistakes and outclassed the Blackhawks over the course of 60 minutes.

Chicago will look to even the series on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. CDT at the Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Center Ice Forums Along the Boards: Vegas outclasses Chicago 4–1 in series opener

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #17680
    Ray Napientek
    Keymaster

    After goaltender Robin Lehner was traded to Vegas from Chicago at the trade deadline in February, not many Blackhawks fans expected to face off agains
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Along the Boards: Vegas outclasses Chicago 4–1 in series opener]

    #17681
    Under Qs moustache
    Participant

    The score didn’t really reflect how close this game was. The Hawks hit the post or crossbar 4 times. Three of those in the first period, so the Hawks were not that far away. The pucks didn’t go in, so thats the score and the story. Half of those go in and the Hawks probably still lose, as the LVGN are the team to beat out of the west.

    It’s doubtful this series goes past five unless Kane, The Cat, and Strome get going, Crow can only play so well, and he will.

    So put this game behind and hopefully the Hawks will be better in the matinee on Thursday.

    ps: A big shout out to Mark Crawford who has taken the “Keystone cops” and settled them down into an acceptable group of defensemen. Perhaps trading Gus was addition by subtraction. Either way they were seldom out of position last night, with good gaps, but were easily bullied in the corners and in front of the net. 175lbs/5’10” defensemen doesn’t cut it in the playoffs, as there are a few too many puck movers and not enough big bodies to clear the crease and win the battles behind the net. A healthy Seabrooke was missing all night.

    #17683
    Jeff Osborn
    Keymaster

    It wasn’t really that close. Hitting the post isn’t necessarily all that valuable of a metric.  One inch the other way and you don’t hit the net at all.  Vegas led in every relevant metric and held the Hawks to only 20 total shots on net.  Vegas dictated the play and controlled the Blackhawks all night.  They toyed with the Hawks like cat and mouse.

    • Crawford, once again, was under .900 save percentage (which he’s been 4 of the 5 postseason games).
    • Keith was on the ice for all 4 goals (2 with Boqvist).
    • Debrincat and Strome combined for 0 shots on net.
    • Nylander played the least of all players.
    • Dach played 4 full minutes more than Jonathan Toews.
    • Kubalik led all Hawks players with 5 sog.

    @PuckinHostile on Twitter

    #17685
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Ray your headline says it all, Vegas outclasses the Hawks.  Indeed, but:

    What was good? Remember the Hawks trying to play a new defensive posture under Colliton to start the yr with a full training camp to implement it? Simply said it was a train wreck. So many high danger chances against and horrific defensive breakdowns you couldn’t count them all. Every game…

    Fast forward to last night they played a defensive scheme to slow down the Knights and it led to the Knight’s having 18 scoring chances to the Hawks’ 17. LVG had 7 high danger chances to the Hawks’ 4. That’s really good vs the top possession team in the NHL.

    Colliton makes adjustments after the 1st and the Hawks carry the play with 9 scoring chances for and only 2 for Vegas. That’s good.

    I think we all can agree the Knights have a big talent edge and with that said Colliton put together a scheme and the Hawks executed it showing structure that ended up with the possession beast relentless Knights with only 1 more scoring chance and only 3 more high danger chances. That’s good.

    The result was Crow did not have to stand on his head to keep the Hawks in the game and without the two softies it’s a tight 2-1 game where anything can happen vs a much deeper and talented team……….. Yep, they lost 4-1 but I thought Colliton put together the only scheme he could to beat the Knights and the Hawks executed it well.

    And what do you do with 2/3 of a line that has Strome and Nylander on it if you’re the coach? You give them 4th line minutes in the best do no harm situations you can and give the 4th line 3rd line minutes. No doubt that Highmore-Kampf-Carpenter is now the 3rd line…… Good move.

    Each game that goes by I see structure and buy in and Colliton giving a weak roster the best chance to win and the Hawks executing it. It’s slowly becoming the rule and not the exception. That’s what I saw in Game 1.

    #17686
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    It wasn’t really that close. Hitting the post isn’t necessarily all that valuable of a metric. One inch the other way and you don’t hit the net at all. Vegas led in every relevant metric and held the Hawks to only 20 total shots on net. Vegas dictated the play and controlled the Blackhawks all night. They toyed with the Hawks like cat and mouse.

    • Crawford, once again, was under .900 save percentage (which he’s been 4 of the 5 postseason games).
    • Keith was on the ice for all 4 goals (2 with Boqvist).
    • Debrincat and Strome combined for 0 shots on net.
    • Nylander played the least of all players.
    • Dach played 4 full minutes more than Jonathan Toews.
    • Kubalik led all Hawks players with 5 sog.

    Indeed, Phuckin.  But you take away the two softies for a goalie recovering from Covid and a few days practice before Game 1 vs Edmonton and the score is 2-1.  And a bounce here or there in a 1 goal and you have a real chance.

    There is no way around it the Knights have a much superior roster and for the Hawks to come from having the worst HDCA in the sport vs the top possession team and the scoring chances end up 18-17 LVG, high danger chances 7-4 Vegas and Crow allowing 2 softies in a 4-1 loss is impressive. The scheme, structure and execution was impressive.

    Impressive in that Colliton came up with the only scheme seemingly possible to win and the Hawks executed it.  ………… Now the roster?  We can fill 100 posts about that but that’s futile in the context of this series.

    #17687
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    A big shout out to Mark Crawford who has taken the “Keystone cops” and settled them down into an acceptable group of defensemen. Perhaps trading Gus was addition by subtraction. Either way they were seldom out of position last night, with good gaps, but were easily bullied in the corners and in front of the net. 175lbs/5’10” defensemen doesn’t cut it in the playoffs, as there are a few too many puck movers and not enough big bodies to clear the crease and win the battles behind the net. A healthy Seabrooke was missing all night.

    You make a really good point I hadn’t thought of, Stache.  How much is the huge turnaround in their end due to asst coach Crawford or Colliton’s scheme? Whatever the answer is Crawford has a large part in it.  …… Simply said it gives the Hawks a chance in most games, especially when Crow is healthy and on.

    Lotta passengers and Boqvist is one of them.  If the kid isn’t contributing in the Ozone he’s a liability.  But the priority is to give the undersized 19 yr old rookie playoff minutes without him getting so overwhelmed he regresses and I think Colliton has done well in that regard.  As ineffective as he’s been the plan is working.

    #17688
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Thought I noticed Nylander making a play or two and backchecking effectively once.  The fancies were nice to him.  He’s one of 4 Hawks that were a plus corsi.  Saad, Murphy and Kubalik being the others. Not an endorsement mind you but Nylander’s 10:00 saw him with a 53 corsi.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.