Plenty of adjustments ahead for Game 2
June, 14, 2013
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- OK, they got their day of rest and then got back on the ice. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins say the effects of their triple-overtime thriller in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals is in the past.
Yes, some legs felt like "jelly" -- as Dave Bolland put it -- during Friday's practices but by Saturday night the scene should be set for another great ride.
"It was a great start," Duncan Keith said. "I think we're looking for the same kind of start in the second game. We want to put the pressure on them, hit them hard."
Who remembers the start to Game 1?
But Keith is right, the Hawks came out with a good pace to their game which provided a chance at a few hits. It got everyone involved and at least set the tone for a decent first period. But the Bruins were the ones to take the lead after one although we know they gave it back rather quickly in the third period. Back and forth things went until Bolland and Andrew Shaw's heroics.
So what adjustments will be made for Saturday?
Joel Quenneville needs to find a way to slow down David Krejci's line. Maybe Nathan Horton's injury will help but between that duo and Milan Lucic, they owned the regulation portion of the game. Horton will be a game-time decision after practicing on Friday.
"He's day-to-day," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after practice. "That's what he was (Thursday). That's why he practiced today. We'll have to make a decision on him (Saturday). It was encouraging to see him out there today. If he feels good (Saturday), he's in the lineup, simple as that."
The chemistry on that line was evident from the first face-off.
"They were a dangerous line," Quenneville said. "Seemed like they were pretty consistent throughout the night.
While there were different forward lines on the ice for the Hawks on each of the Bruins' first two goals by Krejci's line, the same two defensemen, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, were involved in the action. Neither could help stop Boston from scoring. Quenneville was asked on Friday which is more important to be on the ice for the matchup, the right forwards or right defenseman.
"Or both?" Quenneville answered with a smile. "Either way, we'll see. I think that's something that we look at and visit. I think over the course of the season, the back end was something we look at. But I think the one thing this year that we're pleased about all year long is all four lines, we can be comfortable against anybody. Sometimes you prioritize a little bit more."
So it wouldn't be a surprise to see Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook more when Krejci is on the ice. Even if he's mixing and matching his forwards, Quenneville needs to have his best defensemen taking on the Bruins' best. Until another line can create some scoring chances for Boston, the Hawks focus should be on Krejci and Co.
Speaking of scoring chances, the heroes of Game 1, Bolland and Shaw, shouldn't be slowing down in Game 2, unless Julien changes the matchup. But forcing Boston to stick, say, Patrice Bergeron on Bolland's third line would be a huge victory for the Hawks. It would free up the top lines to do some damage.
That's not going to happen which means Bolland and Andrew Shaw, along with Bryan Bickell, will get their chances again against the overmatched Richard Peverly line. As Game 1 wore on, it became evident the Hawks' depth would play a factor and it's probably the reason Quenneville started moving his left wings around. Patrick Sharp switched with Brandon Saad to provide the third line with a finisher as Bolland and Shaw were creating good chances. Eventually Sharp ended back on the second line with Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus, and that's the way Game 2 will start. Saad fit in well with Toews and Marian Hossa as he has most of the season.
The one area that amazingly didn't lose the game for the Hawks was special teams. Unable to score on a 5-on-3 and then giving up a power play goal should have spelled doom for the home team. But it didn't. They got a reprieve from the hockey gods; it might not happen again.
Quenneville was succinct but meaningful in his assessment of the power play.
"Yeah, we addressed it," he said. "We looked at it. We addressed it right after that. You never know if you get another (5-on-3). But certainly we'll see. We weren't pleased with what went on."
His point men were too far out -- to the blue-line -- instead of closer in toward the net, and his forwards were stuck in cement. The next power play should consist of Kane going from one side of the offensive zone to the other, with the puck, and everyone moving with him. That's when the passing and shooting lanes will open, especially with defenders' eyes watching Kane.
Right now, the Hawks have the advantage simply because they won Game 1. Nothing that we know in the mental makeup of the Bruins says losing in the fashion they did will haunt them. But they are behind the eight-ball. The Hawks proved their bottom 6 was better than -- or at least as good as -- Boston's.
The Bruins proved their top 3 comes as good as advertised. The difference on defense was negligible. Hjalmarsson and Oduya got beat. But Zdeno Chara ended up in the penalty box and one shot on goal. Just one, over the course of almost six periods, for the player with the hardest shot in the league.
Game 1 was a classic. What will Game 2 bring? It's anyone's guess.