After a nearly perfect Game One, the Blackhawks were quickly brought back down to earth in Game Two. The offense dried up, the defense allowed too many chances, and Connor McDavid once again proved why he’s the best in the world.
McDavid Takes Over
After a three-point game in the opening game of the series, Connor McDavid knew he still could be better. The Blackhawks knew it too.
All three of his points came on the man advantage and he ended the game -2. It didn’t take McDavid long to show that he could play better.
Just 19 seconds into Game Two, McDavid received a bouncing pass all alone in the slot and roofed the puck over Corey Crawford’s blocker side. What we saw from the Blackhawks on this play was much of the same from the regular season. Two defenseman, Duncan Keith and Adam Boqvist, were both in the same corner, leaving the front of the net wide open.
McDavid would score again nearly four minutes later on a vintage McDavid rush. He knocked the puck down out of midair at his own blue line, kept control of a bouncing puck at full speed while beating Olli Maatta to the outside, and went short-side backhand over Corey Crawford’s glove. This is the McDavid the Blackhawks should have been expecting in Game Two, but they were not up to the task of slowing him down.
Power Play Dries Up
After going 3-for-6 on the power play in Game One, the Blackhawks were hoping their new found success on the man advantage would continue. Kirby Dach looked comfortable playing the front of the net and Dominik Kubalik tallied two goals on his way to setting a new record for points in a postseason debut with five. In Game Two, the Oilers made sure that wouldn’t happen again.
During a stretch in the second period, the Blackhawks were trailing 3–2 and were granted three consecutive power plays. During the first two minutes of the man advantage, the Blackhawks had an easy time setting up. They were in the offensive zone nearly the entire time, and were able to get shots off with ease. The only problem was none of these shots made it through. The Oilers were committed to blocking shots and it paid off. After six minutes of power play time, the Blackhawks had nothing to show for it.
The Blackhawks started the third period with a minute of power play time on clean ice, but once again were unable to capitalize. Heading into Game Three, much emphasis will be put on getting shots through on the man advantage and not squandering precious opportunities.
Hawks Outplayed 5v5
One major advantage for the Blackhawks leading into this series against Oilers was their play at 5v5. The Blackhawks averaged more scoring chances during the regular season while allowing fewer than the Oilers. In Game One, things went as expected. The Blackhawks capitalized three times at even strength while not allowing a single goal. In Game Two, things didn’t go nearly as well.
At 5v5 the Blackhawks were outshot 27 to 18, out-chanced 23 to 17, allowed an astounding 17 high-danger chances, and were outscored 5 to 3.
After a combined 10 points in Game One, the first line of Dominik Kubalik, Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad were held scoreless in Game Two. The only line to have any success was the makeshift line of Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and Patrick Kane. They were able to score three times, but it still wasn’t enough.
Brand New Series
With a win apiece, the series now becomes a best-of-three. Each team had a dominant performance, but also a game they would like to quickly forget about.
The Blackhawks will be the home team in Games Three and Four, which means they will have the last change. Jeremy Colliton will be able to control the matchups in his preferred manner after a nice sample size to analyze through two games. Expect the Blackhawks to put more emphasis on playing team defense and keeping the game at 5v5, which allows them to roll all four lines and wear down the Oilers’ defense. When they forecheck well and create turnovers, which is what happened on Slater Koekkoek’s second period goal, they are easily the better team.
Game Three between the Blackhawks and Oilers is set for Wednesday, August 5 at 8:30 P.M. CDT.