Wednesday’s game between the Stanley Cup Champions and the St. Louis Blues was one of the better first games of this year’s cup series. Each team played to their strengths, St. Louis dominated physically taking hits 41 -24, while the Blackhawks outshot the Blues 35 to 18.
Most of the Blues’ opportunities came from putting bodies and pucks on net. They may not have got as many shots through, but they certainly kept Crawford working when in the offensive zone. Physical pressure applied to Chicago’s defensemen and crease kept the Blackhawks close to their net, which ultimately resulted in the game winning goal.
The Blues defense didn’t play bad, but against (possibly) the best offense in the NHL, they need to find a way to cut back on opposing scoring chances. That doesn’t mean always playing the body, as seemed to be their general strategy in Game 1.
The win for St. Louis came from playing their brand of hockey. But it’s not going to work against Chicago throughout the series. They need to find a way to generate more scoring opportunities from different areas of the ice, and play tighter defense, as the Blackhawks did.
Offensively, Chicago looked as great as they always do, generating scoring chances through a handful of different passing plays, solo efforts, and extended periods of time on attack with shots on net. Somehow, they could not scorein Game 1. Still, it seems unlikely that they won’t find the back of the net in Game 2 if they continue generating scoring chances at this pace.
Chicago’s defense played very well, despite the loss. Shots on goal and genuine scoring opportunities were kept to a minimum when compared to the Blues.
If Chicago keeps playing this way they definitely can come back from a one game deficit and win the series.
Elliott stood on his head for the Blues and continued to uphold his reputation this year as a shutout goaltender, even in playoff hockey. Crawford performed equally well, albeit on half the shots; the solitary goal scored in the game was during overtime due to a fluky bounce shot from Backes off of Van Riemsdyk’s skate. With a 1-0 game and both teams collectively going 0/9 on the power play, they can each move forward with confidence in their net minders.