After a pretty much textbook victory on Wednesday, the Blackhawks are simply going to look to do it all over again this afternoon. It makes writing these previews pretty difficult when all you have to say is… 60 more minutes of that again, please.
Both teams used the first period of Game 1 to get re-acquainted with each other and headed to the first intermission with an even score. While the score remained even in the second, the feel of the game was vastly different. The Hawks were clearly outplaying Scum. The three goals in the third period just seemed like they were a given.
So if anything, the Hawks biggest goal for the game will simply be to not remove their foot from the gas pedal. If the Hawks keep their game up, there’s simply no way for Scum to take 4 victories from them in 6 games but there’s no chance Detroit will just roll over and die. If they’re waiting to throw their best punch, this will have to be the game to do it.
The question for Babcock will be if that best punch means he keeps Datsyuk and Zetts on the same line as he did in the third period. As we guessed, the pair remained on separate lines for the first 40 of Game 1 but were joined up in the third as the Wings were looking for an extra spark. While that plan certainly makes sense, it didn’t pan out exactly like Babcock wanted. Datsyuk was held without a shot on net, both were held without any points. They’re both too good to be held pointless for much longer. The Hawks focus has to remain on shutting these two down because, as we’ve pointed out, there isn’t much behind them right now. Franzen is good for an annoying goal or two and Cleary certainly will make you see red but that doesn’t exactly count as the depth needed to skate with the Hawks. Jimmy Howard was fairly spectacular in the first match up and he’ll need to stand on his head again if Scum play in front of him the same way.
As for the men of four feathers, well.. play it again, Sam. The only question coming into the game was if we’d see the return of Stalberg or not but word just came down via the twitter that Vik will once again be watching the game from the press box. The line up will remain the same and I expect Q to continue his confidence in simply rolling four lines and letting them all wear down the Wings. Staying out of the box (attn: Andrew Shaw) will once again be crucial as this streak of killing penalties will have to end at some point (I mean.. it has to, right?).
I would expect to see a little bit more from Dave Bolland… and yes, I know we’ve been saying that all year. His 11:36 TOI is about 5 minutes under his average for the regular season but being his first game back, Q likely wasn’t looking to push the limits. His faceoff numbers were an improvement but anything is better than sending Kruger out there again.
So the game plan is simple. Watch the last 40 minutes of Game 1 and repeat. Scum aren’t going to make this an easy series but it’s going to take their absolute best combined with a pretty mediocre showing from Chicago to make this a long series.
Let’s Go Hawks