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What I Learned From Round #1

April 27, 2018, 9:34 AM ET [291 Comments]
Justin Lowe
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT


Round #2 in the NHL playoffs just kicked off last night with Vegas continuing their dominance with a decisive 7-0 win.

The Penguins were doing Penguin things with a come from behind 3-2 win over OV’s Capitals.

I wanted to pop in today to touch on a few things that I learned from Round #1 and how it relates to the Chicago Blackhawks (of course). Here we go:

Can the 2018-19 Blackhawks be the 2017-18 Boston Bruins?

“The core is too old and they have too many young guys” would be how some would have described the Boston Bruins before this season started.

Well, their core looks revitalized and their young guys are talented, fast and just flat out good.

I was in awe of how good their player and puck movement has been on the Power Play. There is no reason the Hawks can’t look to emulate their style with the personnel they have.

Hawks fans don’t like/love guys like Marchand and Backes, however, along with these guys, this B’s team is filled with character (leaders) and character players (role players).

The Jake DeBrusk interview after game-7 was great. He said from day 1 Coach Cassidy said that there would be a chance for him and some of the other guys to play and grow. He said there were ups-and-downs throughout the year but all of them were able to get into a groove finally as they grew as a team".

This was evident as they are supporting each other all over the ice and look in sync for the majority of the game.

This was an element severely missing from the Blackhawks play this year. Whether it’s buy-in by the players or a systematic, the Hawks need to get on the same page from day 1. Would be great to have the Hawks young players get the same speech about how they can start to take on a bigger role.

Also, as I mentioned for a good part of the year, they are looking for those character and role players that they feel like they have been missing the last couple of years. Look for them to continue to search for those players in free agency today.

Winnipeg is so fast and so big

We know speed kills in the playoffs but for those saying size and strength doesn’t matter at this time is crazy. The physicality to date so far throughout all the series’ has been a factor.

I’m not talking about continently putting your opponent through the glass, but just the battles all over the ice requires serious pushback.

I should correct myself by saying I’m not just looking at if a guy is 6’4/220 lbs, but size and strength can come in various ways. Look no further than an Andrew Shaw or more recently, the gutsy performance of barely 6-foot/188 lbs Jake DeBrusk.

The Hawks need to regain the mentality of team toughness and whether that’s going out and signing a couple 6’4/220s or playing bigger as a team, that would be an area that has to improve next year, especially if they are hoping to still be playing late-April in 2019.

Perspective

No, this is not a “Toews is better than Auston Matthews” argument. This is about perspective. This about appreciation.

Auston Matthews is a fantastic player but I was surprised he wasn’t more of a game-changer in the playoffs this year. He had 2 points in the 7-game series loss to the Bruins, but more than that, he just didn’t seem like a threat.

So next time we start to complain about Jonathan Toews (who Matthews’ has been compared to in the past), let’s just remember what he was able to do at Matthews’ age; which is arguably more impressive as the “young guns” hadn’t fully taken over the league like they have in 2018.

* 20-year old Matthews out in the 1st round and was not effective.

* 20-year old Toews was named Captain of the Chicago Blackhawks and lead his team to the conference finals. The following year, he led his team to a Cup and personal won the Conn Smythe.

Yes, I know it’s a team sport, but no one can deny how important the Captain was to this Hawks team during this time.

It’s really easy to rag on the guy now for his lackluster play at times and his overpriced salary, but as I have time to reflect, I enjoy reveling in the fact that we were able to watch greatness.

I think Auston Matthews will be just fine and I’m not picking on him but just wanted to offer some perspective on a sunny Friday.

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So there you have it. Keep in mind that I didn’t watch every single game (I have a newborn and just switched jobs, remember). I was able to watch a lot of hockey though and these are my observations from the games I was able to catch.

Do you have any other thoughts on teams/players in Round #1? Hit up the message board.

Now moving on to the Round #1 of the AHL… how about those Rockford IceHogs?! Does this team have that special sauce to make an underdog run? They just might with the way they are gelling.

Here was the lineup last night (courtesy of @ChrisBlock):

Bouma-Kampf-Highmore
Hayden-Sikura-Martinsen
Ejdsell-DiDomenico-Louis
Kero-Johnson-Pelletier

Svedberg-Franson
Dahlstrom-Clendening
Forsling-Raddysh

Delia (Glass backing up)

Out of that lineup above, 12(!) players dressed for the parent club. That’s a testament to the Hawks not having an amazing season, but still, valuable experience for some and others, like Franson and Bouma are just straight up experienced.

The ‘Hogs will take on the winner of the Grand Rapids/Manitoba series which will be decided by Wednesday.

Finally, the NHL Lottery Selection for this upcoming draft will take place on Saturday (730pm EST). The Blackhawks have 6.5% of winning and according to our residence optimist for this event, Darth Kane will be getting his Dahlin Hawks jersey embroidered for Saturday’s event. I guess the biggest question Darth is are you going to go with the Red or the White?

See ya out there!

JL


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