Go ahead and love the Blackhawks' win in Game 1 of the Western Conference final, but also know there won’t be enough wins to reach the Stanley Cup Final if the Hawks continue to chase the puck instead of own it.
Sure, the Hawks imposed their skating game at the start and showed some great tape-to-tape puck passing. They were getting to all the loose pucks and making short, sweet passes to exit the zone and begin yet another rush.
The Hawks were taking advantage of a team that had to fly four hours to Chicago to play two days after completing their second seven-game series.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- Video: Quenneville on need for improvement
- Photos: All the Blackhawks' playoff goals
- Blackhawks vs. Kings series schedule
- Video: Saad on Hawks' Hjalmarsson
- Video (and audio!): Hawks' Hjalmarsson talks about being able to talk again
- Video: Toews' disallowed goal explained
See more videos »
- Ice Hockey
- Los Angeles Kings
See more topics »
And that lasted about eight minutes, maybe 10.
The Kings were supposed to be the tired team. The tired team shouldn’t have the puck most of the time. The Kings had the puck most of the time after the first five minutes.
The Kings shut down the Hawks’ short breakout passes and then took over. That goes for the end of the first period and the second period, as well.
The Hawks went from winning almost every faceoff in the first period to losing almost every draw. Bad news for a puck-posession team.
It turned worse in the second period when the Kings refused to let the Hawks skate early in the period, jumping on loose pucks and moving the puck the way the Hawks are supposed to.
The Corsi Forward metric, which gives a measure of puck possession, went from about 65 percent Hawks after 15 minutes to about 59 percent Kings over the next 20 minutes, according to extraskater.com.
The few times the Hawks were able to mount a rush, the Kings shoved Hawks skaters to the outside and kept them there.
One significant part of the visitors’ game plan starts with converging on Patrick Kane the way everbody used to jump Michael Jordan. The Kings seemed intent on making someone else on that line beat them. Looking at you, Patick Sharp.
Anyway, it was still 1-0, Hawks, and then it wasn’t. Seventy-three seconds after the disallowed goal, the Kings caught the Hawks in a bad line change and Tyler Toffoli tied it.
The Kings were dominating Your Heroes with a 6-1 shot advantage that seemed kind to the foundering Hawks.
A couple minutes later, Crawford somehow managed to block a deflection by Marian Gaborik, the leading goal-scorer in the postseason.
Crawford stopped 16 shots in the second period. Can the guy get some help over here?
The Hawks were looking for a line that could generate pressure. Any line. Any kind of pressure.
And they got it from the new/old fourth line centered by Marcus Kruger, who stole the puck at center and moved it to Brandon Saad on the right. The winger patiently found Duncan Keith at the left point, and Keith’s slap shot clicked off Trevor Lewis’ stick and beat Jonathan Quick for the eventual winning goal.
It didn’t matter if the metrics told you the Hawks deserved to have the lead. They did have it. And the metrics did indicate they shouldn’t.
For the game, the Kings won Corsi Forward 57.4-42.6 percent, so, yeah, the Hawks had puck possession troubles in the third period, too.
But the Hawks won more faceoffs and held the Kings to three shots -- that includes two power plays, mind you -- before Toews scored a goal that counted and made it 3-1.
Crawford was great again. That’s three straight games with only one goal against. The penalty-killing was outstanding, too. It has been that way all postseason, especially at home, where the Hawks are 7-0. Those are important parts of winning the Stanley Cup.
But those areas don’t involve owning the puck. It's a great sign that the Hawks won a game in which they had trouble winning the puck, but any time the Hawks want to play their puck-possession game for more than, I don’t know, 10 minutes, fine by me.