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Key takeaways from Blackhawks-Ducks Game 5

It didn't end the way we wanted, but there are still a lot of things to take away from Game 5 of the Western Conference Final

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks did their best to win Game 5 of the Western Conference Final, and if it wasn't for an unlucky rebound off the blocker of Corey Crawford falling right to Matt Beleskey, they might've just pulled it off. However, the rebound did go to Beleskey, and he buried it to win the game, 5-4, in overtime and give his Ducks a 3-2 series lead. If the Blackhawks are going to make a trip to the Stanley Cup Final this year, they're gonna have to do it in a Game 7. Here's a few of the key takeaways from Game 5:

Lineup changes might be necessary

After Coach Q tinkered with the lineup in Game 3 -- seemingly just for the sake of tinkering -- most fans were left scratching their heads as to why and how he ever though that those changes would work out. But after last night, it might be time for Q to do some tinkering that actually makes sense, in the form of scratching Bryan Bickell and Kimmo Timonen.

Bickell was easily the worst forward on the ice Monday night for both teams. He was a consistent liability for the Hawks when the puck was in his vicinity. He rarely controlled even the easiest of passes that were sent his way, and even when he did, he did nothing constructive with the puck. At one point, Bickell had the puck while Patrick Kane was wide open at the blue line and calling for the pass. Bickell proceeded to dump the puck in, and Kane was so dumbfounded that he basically just stood there in disbelief for a moment. What could've been a scoring chance was wasted on a dumb play. Then there was the Ducks' winning goal, which started with Bickell failing to get the puck deep into the Anaheim zone. All he had to do was chip it in, but he got greedy and tried to put it in hard, and instead put it right off the shin pads of the Anaheim defenseman. Bad all around.

Then there was Timonen, who saw only 8:03 of ice time but still managed to be a minus-2 in the game, with the second of those goals -- the Ducks' fourth of the game -- arguably being his fault, as he failed to clear the puck out the zone (although you could also hang it on Patrick Sharp). He's largely been a liability in this series, and last night's game was a prime example. It's tough to play so little and still have such a negative impact on a game. It might be time for him to come out of the lineup, even if he's likely to retire this summer and it would be a disappointing way to end his career. Quenneville will surely take all that into consideration while trying to put together the best group possible.

The question is what you do in both cases. I guess with Timonen, you could scratch him in favor of David Rundblad, who was bad in Game 1 of this series, but might deserve another shot, especially with the way Timonen has looked. With Bickell, it's a little more murky. You definitely don't want to break up either of the first or third lines, because they've both looked great in this series. That rules out putting Sharp or Brandon Saad on the same line as Kane and Brad Richards. One option would be to scratch Bickell in favor of Joakim Nordstrom, who would play on the fourth line, and move Andrew Shaw up to the wing with Richards and Kane. Shaw has looked good when playing on the wing, so getting him on that line could pay off. It might not be ideal, but Bickell is not getting it done right now, and needs to be out of the lineup.

Board breakouts aren't there

One of the keys to the Blackhawks' game is their strong breakout play, which usually starts with the defensemen making a play up the boards to get the puck to a forward. The problem right now is that the Ducks are completely taking that board pass away. They've forced the Blackhawks to hold pucks for too long while looking for the first pass of the breakout, which has often led to bad turnovers and occasionally goals. The Blackhawks need to adjust, but what they might have to do is almost counterintuitive.

The first step is to bring one more forward back into the defensive zone so that the defenseman who's going to start the breakout has another passing option. It leaves less forwards up to really get the rush going once that pass is made, but that's a better turnout than a turnover leading to a goal. The next step is the one that could really hurt, and that's going up the middle of the ice. The old adage is that you never play the puck to the middle of the ice on a breakout, because you risk creating a scoring chance for the other team. But right now, the way the Ducks are focusing so much attention on shutting down the pass up the board, the middle is wide open for the taking. You want to make sure you have sure handed forwards receiving that pass into the middle of the ice (another reason to scratch Bickell), but if you can make it work, the open ice is there for the taking on the breakout.

Get pucks on Andersen

Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen has been solid in this series, especially in Game 1, which he essentially stole for Anaheim. But one thing that has helped him out so much is the incredible rate at which the Ducks block shots. It seems like every other shot attempt by the Blackhawks is sent right into the legs of an Anaheim defender, meaning they aren't getting to the goalie. The Ducks blocked away six of the first 10 Chicago shot attempts last night, and the Blackhawks were only able to get three shots on goal in the first period.

However, Andersen has slowly to started to crack as the series has gone on, evidenced by the first and last Chicago goals last night. The first, scored by Teuvo Teravainen on a strong rush, hit Andersen, but fought through between his arm and chest and wound up in the back of the net. The fourth goal was just a lame attempt on net by Jonathan Toews that caught Andersen off guard, ricocheted off his left skate and in. If the Blackhawks can avoid Anaheim's legs and make sure their efforts are getting on net, they're going to beat Andersen more and more.


This series is far from over. After the first period, the Blackhawks were the better team in Game 5, and only lost on an unlucky rebound. They're headed back home for Game 6, and they have lots of experience in these types of situations. All is not lost, and making these adjustments could help them earn the two wins necessary for a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Adam Hess is the creator and editor of Feathers in the Hat, and a staff writer at Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @FeathersInDaHat.

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