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"Real" Hockey Begins for Blackhawks

July 31, 2020, 1:31 PM ET [523 Comments]
Tyler Cameron
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

The Hawks had a nice exhibition win on Wednesday beating the Blues 4-0.

To my eye, the Blues were playing at about 70-80% while the Hawks were closer to going all out.

Still, a win is a win and there were a lot of positives that came out of this game:

* Corey Crawford
– He looks like he's ready (enough) to go. He'll be your Game #1 starter.

* Malcolm Subban – The 26-year old 'tender appears to have won the backup role. There's a chance he sees some ice time during this series.

* Toews-Saad-Kubalik
– This line – especially Kubalik- was straight fire. Why Colliton switched his lines last minute is beyond me, but it worked.

* Balance – The rest of the lines looked solid and the Hawks might have the best balance they've had all season.

* Defence – Same with the pairings – they might be the best they've been all year. Will they be able to contain McDavid and Draisaitl? We'll seeeeeee.


There were also some question marks like where does And is Calvin de Haan actually ready? Alex Nylander's brain go sometimes? How will Crow fare with more shots over 60 minutes?

I suspect we will get those answers after game one (well maybe not about Nylander's brain).

I'm sure you're sick of the standard series previews, I mean, we've had months to prepare to watch this CHI/EDM matchup.

So, instead, I wanted to offer thoughts from Sean Maloughney, the Oilers writer here at Hockeybuzz.

I asked Sean questions about his Oilers and he gave some great responses. Check it:

Tyler Cameron: Ok, all we've heard are that the Oilers special teams are awesome. We know McDavid and Draisaitl are Power Play machines, but is their PK really that good? What's EDM's secret short-handed?

Sean Maloughney: There is no one secret to the Oilers penalty kill. Riley Sheahan, Archibald, Klefbom, and Russell are the Oilers' top unit for the penalty kill and none of those players alone have come in as the saviour of the PK. In terms of HDCA (High Danger Chances Allowed) the Oilers allowed the 10th fewest chances against. Mike Smith was a mediocre goalie at 5 on 5 but he posted the highest SV% at 4 on 5 of all goalies (0.918) while Koskinen was right behind with a 0.901%. At the end of the day Dave Tippett is the secret weapon for the Oilers as he has the entire team dialed in on the PK.

TC: Help us with the goaltending decision - who starts game #1 on Saturday and do you think they'll play the entire series?

SM: Right now it is looking like Mikko Koskinen will get the nod in game 1 for the Edmonton Oilers. He posted better numbers than Smith throughout the season and in TC and scrimmages has looked like the better goalie. Tippett switched his goalies back and forth all season with no goalie ever starting more than 5 straight games. Depending how the game goes I would not be surprised if Koskinen gets the game 1 start and Smith gets some action in for game 2.

TC: Outside of the stars on the Oilers, who is a player the Hawks shouldn't sleep on?

SM: Oscar Klefbom. The Oilers defender has never gotten the respect he deserves around the league and is not only a key part of their dominant powerplay, but can be so effective when he jumps up into the play. Last time this player appeared in the playoffs he went 2-3-5 through 12 games logging massive minutes, especially when Sekera went out.

TC: Blackhawks fans want to know - is James Neal still a punk?

SM: Depends on your definition of punk? Neal exploded offensively for the Oilers in the fall and then did not score a goal in 2020. Injuries clearly played a part and should not be a factor with the extended break. Neal is now seeing time on the Oilers' fourth line which should be able to be a positive possession line while still cashing in some chances.

TC: Ok, Sean, finish these sentences...

The Oilers win this series if...

The Oilers lose this series if...

SM: The Oilers win this series if they play to the best of their ability. That seems like a cop out but if this team is playing at it's highest level and the Hawks are playing at their best... Edmonton wins easily. To add to that I will say if the special teams continue where they left off.

The Oilers lose this series if their 5 on 5 woes continue. The Oilers were a mediocre 5 on 5 team, finishing 16th in the league in 5 on 5 scoring. They actually allowed more goals at even strength than they scored. If Edmonton isn't capitalizing on their PP and are being outchanced over the remainder of the game things could become problematic.


Awesome stuff from Sean.

Be sure to check out his latest, Oilers Pre Game 1 Blog - Everything You Need To Know to learn more about the Hawks foe in this series.

Enjoy Game #1, everyone!

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