Game 1 Thoughts and Thoughts on Game 2
The outcome of game 1 couldn't have gone much better for the Hawks on Saturday.
Sure, there are some areas that the Hawks can clean up for game 2 tonight but considering how this team played for much of the 2019-20 season, I consider it a great performance.
Edmonton should be more prepared on Monday night as they look to redeem themselves.
I have a few quick thoughts below, however, there is one specific topic I want to call out – the Blackhawks preparedness.
I applauded Jeremy Colliton for running a great training camp; it started off slower as Coach Colliton let his team get up to speed. Then he pivoted quickly to very intense skates and scrimmages and those continued right until the end of camp.
I'm not saying the Oilers didn't have a good camp, I actually have no idea how Dave Tippett ran his camp, but it was evident that one team was ready to go and had their legs under them… and the other team didn't.
The Hawks came out strong and even after McDavid scored on a PPG early in the 1st period, that didn't seem to bother this relentless Chicago team.
Colliton won't wow you with a pregame speech:
But, as we learn more about Coach JC's style, he's consistent, methodical, and quite analytical in his demeanour.
He got his team mental and physically prepared for this series and the players did the rest. That's all you can ask of this young coach.
Now, on to a couple of other comments from game 1 and looking forward to what could happen in game 2:
* Domnik Kuablik – Let's get this one out of the way… he's awesome and he's going to get paid. I suspect he – and that entire first line – continues to roll in game 2.
* Patrick Kane – Kane was quiet in game 1 but that's a good thing. So many series' in the past – even when the Hawks were winning Cups – Kane would go about his business, however, wouldn't be overly effective until mid/late-series. He was still good yesterday but his play was overshadowed by that 1st line.
* First-Game Jitters – The Hawks had a lot of players who were playing in their first NHL playoff game on Saturday. Boqvist appeared to be the most nervous out of them all. Nylander had his moments, however, I thought he played good enough.
* Kirby Dach – Speaking of first-game jitters, Kirby Dach didn't show any. He looks like a 25-year old out there. He is going to be so dominant as soon as next year once he puts on a little more weight and gains strength. He's already becoming an impact player.
* The Power Play – Uh-oh, look out Oilers, the Blackhawks have maybe, just maybe, figured this power play thing out just in time. We know the Oilers are insanely good with the man advantage, but the Hawks are looking like they could almost keep up at this rate. CHI's first unit looks dominant with their new configuration. Dach's role down low is a brilliant move by Colliton as he is such a great option down low with that reach and ability to take it to the net. Kuablik and Kane are on the proper sides for success and Duncan Keith has steadied that unit.
* Drake Caggiula – The Hawks will be without Caggiula after he has been suspended after his illegal check to the head of Tyler Ennis. This was a suspendable play in my opinion and 1-game is fair.
* Dylan Sikura or Brandon Hagel – Who will draw in for the Hawks in game 2 – Sikura or Hagel? If you want to emulate the same style of Caggiula's to keep the consistency of that 3rd line, you go with Hagel. If you want to ride a "hot hand" and a guy who has a lot to prove, you go with Sikura. I believe Colliton will go with the latter.
We'll see who starts in net for EDM, but I would guess Mikko Koskinen. Who knows though with Tippett; he made an awful decision to put Smith in for game 1.
All I know is that Chicago better get ready for a big push tonight from McJesus and Co. Should be a good one.
Enjoy the game tonight.