Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final Notes: Chapter Two

There are no words for how bad the Chicago Blackhawks broke down in Saturday’s game. They were doing so well for the first half till some kind of voodoo settled on them and sapped them of their ability to play hockey. Simply put, the Blackhawks somehow eased up so much that the Boston Bruins were able to take advantage and not only score but win 2-1 in overtime.

One thing the Blackhawks did do in the first 30 minutes was scale back the physicality. In Game 1, they came out swinging, and it cost them the first two goals. In Game 2, they were more focused on puck possession, although Niklas Hjalmarsson once again coughed up the puck, this time to avoid a hit by Milan Lucic. That sent the puck flying, and it’s lucky that Nathan Horton didn’t have a chance to grab it.

I’ve said it before, but it’s really, really important now: the power play must improve. On their first man advantage, the Blackhawks actually had a few shots on goal, but the power play unspooled after that. Everything about it is abysmal, and there’s too much passing and a huge lack of effort to get pucks to the net. This has to get better, because they’re otherwise making the Bruins’ job of penalty killing too easy.

A pleasant surprise was that the Blackhawks became more aware of Tuukka Rask giving up so many rebounds. It’s how Patrick Sharp was able to score the only Blackhawks goal. More often than not, though, rebounds went unnoticed, which means scoring chances did as well. They can’t be afraid to get up to the net – Andrew Shaw’s already shown his fearlessness against Zdeno Chara. With Rask in net, the garbage goals may be the only way to score.

The Blackhawks are 0-3 in the playoffs when it comes to winning the third game. Can they break that curse and get the W? It’ll be tough, but they’ll try.

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