The Chicago Blackhawks had some really good scoring opportunities during their Game 1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, but they weren’t able to convert often enough as they fell behind in a playoff series for the first time this postseason.
Now, as the Blackhawks look to even up the series and steal home ice advantage as the series shifts back to Chicago for Game 3, we take a look at some of the key areas that the team should be focusing on as they prepare for Game 2.
Power Play Must Improve
As we detailed after Game 1, the Blackhawks only averaged about 14.8 seconds of possession time in the offensive zone on their three power plays in that contest. They had difficulties dealing with the Ducks’ aggressive forecheck along the boards, and they couldn’t seem to find open shooting lanes through the middle of the ice either as they went 0-for-3 on the man advantage.
In Game 2, the Blackhawks need to double down on their strategy and move the puck through the zone more effectively. That starts with their zone entries, which were much more successful when they were controlled entries rather than dump-ins to the zone. The Ducks have the team speed to chase down the puck and force turnovers on those plays, so controlled entries and crisp passing are the way to go.
Stay Consistent With Line Combinations
In Game 1, head coach Joel Quenneville shuffled up his forward lines a bit as the game wore on, but the changes didn’t seem to have the desired effect as the Hawks’ scoring production seemed to slow down as the game progressed.
In this game, Quenneville needs to have faith that his team will be able to score with their current lineup. They have a very nice mix of physicality and speed throughout their lineup, and leaving lines the way they are will help maintain a more consistent offensive attack during the game.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Aggressive
In Game 1, the Blackhawks ended up getting burned on a couple of gambles by their blue liners. David Rundblad was unable to stop a rush at the blue line that led to the first Anaheim goal, and Duncan Keith also failed to stop a play in the neutral zone, giving the Ducks an odd-man rush that resulted in their third goal of the game.
Despite those setbacks, the Blackhawks have to be careful not to be too conservative in this game. With the aggressive physical approach that the Ducks use, they do open themselves up to counter attacks, and that means the Hawks could take advantage if they play their cards correctly.