The box score of game one between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights depicts a lopsided affair due to the 4-1 final score and the 34-20 shot differential.
The Hawks certainly have several adjustments to make heading into game two, but there is one area in which they are close to breaking through — special teams.
As evidenced in the tweet above, the Blackhawks were able to effectively limit Vegas — and even score a shorthanded goal — when down a man.
The Hawks will need to carry over their solid penalty killing efforts from game one into the rest of the series in order to keep momentum in check whenever they wind up in the box.
On the power play, the Hawks compiled double-digit scoring chances but just weren’t able to cash in.
If the Blackhawks want to make this series interesting, special teams will be vital. Vegas clocked in as the league’s fifth-worst penalty kill during the regular season. If the Hawks continue to pile up scoring chances with the man advantage, they will eventually find the back of the net.
Due to the structured style that Vegas employs, this series will not feature a long assembly line to the penalty box like we saw in the Qualifying Round series against the Edmonton Oilers. That is why it of utmost importance that the Blackhawks convert when they have power play opportunities.
They showed that capability against the Oilers, as they scored 22% of the time with the man advantage. That figure marked a 6.8% improvement from their lackluster regular-season clip of 15.2%.
Furthermore, the power play could be an area that sparks Patrick Kane offensively as well. It’s no secret that the Blackhawks need “Playoff Kane” to show up if they want to have a chance in this series. The skillful winger only has one goal and three assists so far in the playoffs, which is underachieving for him. Kane nearly buried a power play tally in the third period last night, but it rang off the post.
Like the Hawks as a collective unit, Kane is right on the cusp but now needs to convert. Vegas is a team with few weaknesses, but the penalty kill is one of them. The Blackhawks need to make it hurt whenever a Golden Knight takes a trip to the penalty box.