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Blackhawks Mon May 18 2015

Despite Layoff, Ducks, Andersen Outplay Blackhawks in Game 1

Chicago BlackhawksAfter a lengthy rest for both the Anaheim Ducks and Blackhawks, it was time to drop the puck for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at the Honda Center in sunny California. The narrative leading into Game 1 was the Hawks would have been on too much rest and would lose all the momentum after taking it to the Minnesota Wild in a four-game sweep.

Turns out the Hawks only had three more days of preparation than the Ducks (10 days compared to seven days), which didn't seem to kill any momentum for head coach Bruce Boudreau's team, after taking the first in this series by the final of 4-1.

A week off didn't seem to kill momentum for goalie Frederik Andersen, who stopped 32 of 33 shots sent his way -- 16 of those coming within the first 20 minutes of the game. A stoppage of momentum also didn't seem to reduce the smothering of Jonathan Toews, who was hit constantly by Ryan Kessler, and Patrick Kane, who only managed one shot on goal the whole game and finished with a minus-2.

The Blackhawks stuck to their game plan coming into this one, which was to win with speed, take multiple shots on goal by controlling the puck, and to keep shots against Corey Crawford to a minimum. Most of this seemed to be working in the Hawks' favor until David Rundblad, who's filling in for the injured Michal Rozsival, had two costly turnovers, which turned into two goals by Hampus Lindholm and Kyle Palmieri, respectively -- both of whom weren't suffering from the week-long layoff.

Even after Brad Richards cut the lead in half off of a sweet steal and top-shelf bullet in the second period, the Ducks continued to smother the Hawks, including outdrawing them at the dot.

The Hawks owned the possession battle the entire game, running a 60 CORSI-for, compared to a 46 CORSI-for for the Ducks, according to Marcus Kruger led the way for the Hawks with a plus-15 in that category, while Kane suffered a staggering minus-6.

If it's one thing to take away, you know these low numbers for Kane aren't going to remain, and likely will return to normal in Game 2. That might include some line shifting by Joel Quenneville -- perhaps going to Kane-Toews-"X" as with in previous series.

Once again the power play resembled a traffic jam on the Kennedy as the Blackhawks squandered three opportunities, two of those coming in the third period. In this series, they are going to have to step up in this area, considering how physical the Ducks play. If the Hawks can avoid getting trapped in retaliation, they'll earn more opportunities, which will help in opening the flood gates against Andersen.

Game 2 is one the Hawks can take, which will steal home ice before coming home for Games 3 and 4. Limiting turnovers and staying on course will get things back on track, regardless of momentum.

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