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Sunday, May 2, 2010
Don't read too much into one game

By Jesse Rogers

I suppose if there was a time to panic after one game, then the Blackhawks nation is spending their Sunday making vacation plans for late May -- or sooner.

The reality is, it’s still just one game and if nothing else, the Hawks have proven they can get up off the floor and respond when they need to.

You want the glass half-full? I can do that.

The Blackhawks outplayed the Canucks for most of the first period, and those 17 shots they sent at Roberto Luongo weren’t all easy saves. They earned two power-play opportunities while staying out of the box themselves. If the Hawks did get one by Luongo early, the whole game might have gone differently.

There was a lot of good in that first period, until Antti Niemi and Brent Sopel started to have issues. Ironic, the two opening-round heroes had bad first periods in the opening game of round two.

Once it got to 3-0, there was little chance the Hawks were going to come back. They never again played as well as in the game’s opening minutes.

Some of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s plans may have backfired. Instead of going with a traditional four lines, he put some interchangeable parts together to keep pressure on a team used to playing with three lines. There was no pure checking or energy line in Game 1.

It was supposed to create mismatches in favor of the Hawks, and it did for a while. Patrick Sharp’s line was matched against the Canucks’ fourth line several times, but it could not take advantage. In the end, it was Vancouver who capitalized, as five different Canucks earned their first playoff goal or assist.

As we saw after a very bad Game 3 against Nashville, changes to the lineup likely are coming. If Adam Burish or Ben Eager return once again, it’s not to be the difference but to provide a spark. This game didn’t lack the work ethic of last series’ Game 3, so I doubt wholesale roster changes are coming, but there might be a few.

One trend to keep an eye on is the Blackhawks' inability to bail out their goaltender when he’s having a rough go.

In Game 1 against Nashville, they fell apart in front of Niemi after he let in that soft goal early in the third period. On Saturday, their play went backwards again after Niemi struggled on the first two or even three Vancouver tallies. Maybe they start to play desperate and get out of their game or maybe there’s something more mentally sinister going on, but it would be nice to bail him out for a change.

One game can be an aberration; it certainly was the case against Nashville. Needing a game against Vancouver to get their head and legs going wasn’t unforeseeable. The first thing Duncan Keith said in the dressing room after the game was he thought the Blackhawks looked slow. Or maybe the Canucks just looked fast.

It’s another wake-up call. Look at the bright side. This time it comes after Game 1 instead of Game 3.