The Blackhawks lost Game 1 Wednesday night in St. Louis 1-0 after David Backes’ OT goal that bounced off Trevor van Riemsdyk’s skate and past Corey Crawford.
This is probably the most pleased I’ve been after a Hawks loss in the past seven years. There really is no reason to fret over what happened. Yes, there were some things that the Hawks could have done better. But for the most part, not really much more you can ask for here.
-Yes, not scoring a goal is less than ideal, but the Hawks generated a ton of quality chances. Brian Elliott was superb for the Blues, stopping all 35 of the Hawks’ shots. That won’t hold all series. The one major gripe I have from the game was the Hawks’ inability to finish, especially on the power play. All of that is easily fixable for Game 2 and beyond. Hats off to Elliott.
-For as much concern as we had going into these playoffs regarding the Hawks’ momentum, they certainly looked fine to me. I am honestly really impressed with how they played tonight, even in a loss. They looked comfortable and were in control for nearly the entire game. Outside of some Blues surges here and there, it was mostly the Hawks getting consistent pressure.
-Mashinter and Svedberg were less than stellar tonight. Maybe the one dark spot aside from the OT goal. Expect Panik, and obviously Duncan Keith, to be in for them in Game 2.
-The Blues are no offensive juggernaut, but I think the Hawks’ defense played fine. Having Keith back for Game 2 after the suspension will be a major boost. I thought the Hawks did a nice job containing Tarasenko, and for the most part did well at getting pucks out of the zone and avoiding turnovers…
-The OT goal was the result of a few mistakes, but mostly just a terrible bounce. Crawford probably should have frozen that puck that rolled to him right before the goal. Shaw couldn’t corrale the resulting loose puck and leave the zone. Then Backes throws one to the front of the net and it banks off TVR and in. Woof.
-Getting a power play seven seconds into overtime and walking away with nothing definitely leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Tough to come up empty there.
-The Blues are set on making this a physical series, not that that’s much of a surprise. St. Louis registered 41 hits in Game 1, and according to Ken Hitchcock, they want to get up to 70 in Game 2… I mean, that’s nice, but when you’re playing a team that time and time again has shown that it is not fazed when playing against harder hitting teams… It makes you wonder.
-Nevertheless, the Blues are intent on making this a war of attrition. It almost makes you think they have nothing else to throw at the Hawks besides bodies. If those are the only cards they have, it will play right into the Hawks’ hands.
Obviously losing on a fluky own goal in overtime sucks, but if you step back and look at the performance as a whole you have to like what you see. The Hawks, down their best D-Man, controlled the game and looked really comfortable. Crawford looked to form, and the Hawks generated quality chances all night long. The bounce just went the Blues way this time. Expect the Hawks to come back refocused and even stronger on Friday night.
Onward to Game 2.