Hockey is back and the Blackhawks are apparently ready for it. After stumbling out the gate with a foolish “Too Many Men On the Ice” Penalty, then giving up an early goal in the first few minutes of the first period, the Blackhawks stormed out to 4 goals to end the first period with a score of 4-1. After the first intermission, Edmonton pressed harder, but the Hawks kept their foot on the pedal and added two more goals, while the Oilers added one. The 5th seed Oilers entered the second intermission trailing the 12th seed Hawks with a score of 6-2. Then, the Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford continued his strong goalie play well into the 3rd period, despite allowing 2 late goals off an Oilers’ power play and another with their goalie pulled. In both cases, the Oilers had the man advantage. Patrick Kane netted an empty netter in the final minute, but it was called back due to offsides.
In the end, the Blackhawks impressed greatly in Game 1 of this postseason entry series. The standouts from this game were captain, Jonathan Toews, with 2 goals and 1 assist, Brandon Saad, with a goal and an assist, and Duncan Keith, who had 2 assists and 2 blocks. Rookie, and 2019 3rd overall draft pick, Kirby Dach, also impressed with an assist and his first postseason point. The player that played the most significant role, however, was rookie, Dominik Kubalik, a Calder Trophy finalist, who scored twice and added three more assists for a total contribution of 5 goals. The dude was everywhere and it showed. If he and Dach keep on this track, the Blackhawks could have a very real shot at hoisting Lord Stanley this summer.
The defenses of the Blackhawks and of the Oilers are definitely subpar, hence the heavy scoring match, however, the shots-on-goal comparison is alarming. The Blackhawks finished the contest with 42 shots on goal, while the Oilers only managed 29. That is a significant disparity, especially considering players like Connor McDavid and league-leading scorer, Leon Draisaitl are the primary force behind the Oilers attack. The Hawks were sure to keep bodies on the two stars and their efforts paid off. Expect a tough Game 2, with it essentially being a must-win for the Edmonton Oilers. Only one team in NHL history has won a 5-game series (during the era of 5-game series) after trailing 2 games to 0. As long as Kubalik continues to be the standout he has shown himself to be and the main core of Toews, Kane, Keith, and Crawford continue their expected performances, this odd postseason could be a long one for the Chicago Blackhawks! Game 2 is tonight at 9:30 Central Time!
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