Observations From Section 321 : Forechecks And Balances

Blackhawks dominate Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals with a 4-1 win of the Red Wings.

Well that sure was fun wasn't? The Blackhawks rolled to a 4-1 Game 1 victory over the rival Red Wings in front of a raucous United Center crowd. The Hawks came out on mission last night, and except for a few minutes of the 1st period, completely dominated Detroit. The Hawks used a relentless forecheck to force the Wings into numerous turnovers. I have never seen a Detroit team look that bad in their own zone, but then again I've been used to seeing a certain Hall of Fame defenseman on the ice. For most of the game it was men against boys. After watching their effort last night, I am amazed that the Red Wings won a single playoff game let alone an entire series. But, it is just one game and this series is far from over. One of the best coaches in the game, Mike Babcock, now has two days to form a counter attack. I fully expect Saturday's Game 2 to be a much more even contest than last night's game.

The Blackhawks dictated the play from the opening shift of the game, using the forecheck to establish puck possession and apply offensive pressure. Marian Hossa got the Hawks on the board with a power play goal at 9:03 of the 1st period. The play was started by a Brendan Smith turnover (his first of many) and Hossa blasted a one timer set up by Patrick Sharp. Jonathan Toews picked up the secondary assist on Hossa's 4th goal of the post season. At least the Wings fans now have a real reason to boo Hossa when the series shifts to Detroit. The Red Wings were quick to respond and nearly got the goal back on the very next shift. Detroit was able to tie the game at 10:57 with his 3rd goal of the playoffs. The play was allowed to happen because of one of the few times the Hawks forwards, in the case the top line, were lazy to get back on defense. They allowed the Wings' 3rd line to gain speed through the neutral zone and Brunner had an easy tap in off of a rebound.

The game remained tied throughout the 2nd period despite the Blackhawks outshooting the Wings 17 to 5. Normally I am extremely nervous and tense during the 3rd period of a close playoff game, but last night I was completely relaxed. Nothing the Wings were doing made me doubt the outcome of the game at any time of the final 40 minutes.

Johnny Oduya put the Blackhawks ahead for good, with his 2nd goal of the playoffs, at 8:02 of the 3rd period. The Hawks, once again, used the great puck possession in the offensive zone to break the tie. Oduya was left wide open while Detroit was scrambling to get the puck out of their own end. Patrick Sharp got to puck from the left hand boards to Oduya, who fired a top shelf, wrist shot from the between the circles. Patrick Kane was credited with the secondary assist on the play. Marcus Kruger added an insurance goal at 11:23 with his 2nd goal of the post season. Jimmy Howard tried to freeze the puck against the side of his net, after Nick Leddy got the puck deep, but Daniel Carcillo was able to dig the puck out and get it out in front of the net. Frogger was there to clean up the mess and quickly put a back hand shot past Howard for a 3-1 lead. Patrick Sharp scored his 6th goal in 6 games with an empty netter in the final minute of the game to seal a 1-0 series lead.

* I think it is safe to say Brandon Saad got Q's message. Saad had,by far, his best game of the post season. He had quite a few quality chances but couldn't cash in. He reminded me of what we saw out of him early in the season where he was all over the ice but couldn't crack the score sheet. As long as Saad keeps doing what he did last night, the points will come.

* I didn't think anything could be worse than Andrew Shaw's porno stache but then I watched him play. His elbow on Jakub Kindl was just plain dirty and stupid. Q is obviously not afraid to send messages and bench players, so lets see how he feels about dumb plays like that.

* Holy crap Brendan Smith is terrible!! What an awful night for the young defenseman, who should be the target of pressure for the rest of the series. Any time a player in a red jersey came within 5 feet of Smith he coughed up the puck. The official scorer must have been blind drunk because he only credited Smith with one giveaway.

* Speaking of Wings who had a rough night, Daniel Cleary was not particularly good either. During a Wings power play in the 1st period, he had an open look at Corey Crawford, from 5 feet out, but elected to pass the puck backwards instead of taking the shot. Johnny Oduya was Cleary's man on the game winning goal but he completely left him alone for the goal. At least Smith has the built in excuse of inexperience, not sure what was Cleary's problem last night.

* Last night we got glimpses of the Dave Bolland we've all been waiting to see all season long. I will send Justin Abdelkader a nice fruit basket if it was his little scrum with the Rat that finally gets Bolland's head out of his ass.

* I wrote in my series preview that the two goalies will only go as far as the team plays in front of them. Jimmy Howard had to face 20 more shots than Crow. This will be a very short series if that trend continues. Also, the 3rd period has been the complete opposite for these two teams. The Hawks have a +7 in goal differential in the 3rd, while the Wings are now a -10.

* And finally, I thought starting the "Howard" chant after the Hawks went up 2-1 was extremely bush league. What are we in Minnesota? At that point Howard had given up 2 goals on 33 shots and was the only reason the game wasn't 6-1. Not the right time to start that crap. Had Howard given up 3 goals on 5 shots then, by all means, have at him.

Blackhawks Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Duncan Keith D 17:42 20 14 +6 +3 +5
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 17:16 19 13 +6 +3 +5
Brent Seabrook D 15:53 23 14 +9 -1 +9
Nick Leddy D 16:23 22 14 +8 -1 +8
Patrick Sharp R 16:21 25 11 +14 +1 +14
Daniel Carcillo L 5:40 2 4 -2 0 -2
Marcus Kruger C 5:59 1 6 -5 0 -5
Jonathan Toews C 15:47 20 11 +9 -1 +9
Brandon Saad L 13:32 17 10 +7 -1 +7
Michal Handzus C 16:09 23 12 +11 +1 +11
Johnny Oduya D 16:35 19 10 +9 -3 +10
Bryan Bickell L 13:08 13 11 +2 -1 +2
Michal Rozsival D 16:56 19 11 +8 -3 +9
Dave Bolland C 11:11 14 9 +5 0 +5
Andrew Shaw C 14:07 18 12 +6 -1 +6
Michael Frolik R 6:38 3 5 -2 -1 -2
Marian Hossa R 14:52 19 11 +8 -1 +8
Patrick Kane R 17:21 28 12 +16 +1 +16

Red Wings Corsi Numbers

Player Pos ES TOI Total Shots For Total Shots Against Corsi Net Zone Starts Adjusted Corsi
Brendan Smith D 17:25 11 20 -9 -1 -9
Jakub Kindl D 13:04 10 17 -7 +1 -7
Justin Abdelkader L 16:45 12 19 -7 -1 -7
Daniel Cleary R 13:43 9 18 -9 +2 -10
Pavel Datsyuk C 16:56 11 19 -8 -1 -8
Gustav Nyquist C 11:47 15 12 +3 0 +3
Patrick Eaves R 8:21 4 9 -5 +1 -5
Damien Brunner C 12:28 15 18 -3 -1 -3
Cory Emmerton C 7:46 4 10 -6 +1 -6
Kyle Quincey D 16:23 12 19 -7 -1 -7
Carlo Colaiacovo D 13:43 12 13 -1 +1 -1
Henrik Zetterberg L 16:00 11 23 -12 -1 -12
Todd Bertuzzi R 7:40 3 8 -5 +1 -5
Valtteri Filppula C 14:55 10 23 -13 +1 -13
Jonathan Ericsson D 19:20 15 25 -10 +1 -10
Niklas Kronwall D 19:50 14 26 -12 +1 -12
Joakim Andersson C 11:15 14 10 +4 0 +4
Johan Franzen C 15:00 10 18 -8 +1 -8