In Game One, the Canucks scored the first goal after just 7:03 of game time, and the Blackhawks were never able to come back to tie the game. In Game Two, the Canucks scored the first goal after just 7:30 of game time, and once again, the Blackhawks never brought the game even. It's hard to know, then, how much of the even play in each of these last two games is due to Chicago's actually being able to keep up with the Canucks and how much of it is both teams playing to the score late in the game, especially since Vancouver has played an awful lot with a two-goal lead. On the one hand, that the even strength chances and Corsi numbers have been so close - the Canucks are +2 in EV chances and +15 in EV Corsi through two games - is a testament to Vancouver's dominance. On the other hand, I felt a whole lot better about Chicago's chances at the end of Game Two than I did at the end of Game One. The physical game was much more even, the support players for Chicago were able to create some offense, and the bottom pairing defenders weren't getting exposed. The Hawks still lost, of course, but the way they lost has me feeling a lot more hopeful as the series shifts to Illinois. Scoring chances and more after the jump.
For those who'd like a definition: a scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score. Finally, a big thanks to Vic Ferrari for making the whole damn thing possible with his awesome scripts.
|Period||Chi / Van
||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
*Click to enlarge
Just so we're all on the same page, I didn't count the Canucks' third goal as a scoring chance. It was a point shot with no traffic that Ben Smith - who had a pretty crummy game aside from the two goals - tipped past his own goalie who probably went down too soon regardless. The Hawks still got more than half of their EV chances from one line (Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa), but I thought Patrick Kane did a really good job of making the other two guys he played with dangerous. Presumably, hard-matching Sharp, Toews, and Hossa with the Sedins will be high on Joel Quenneville's agenda in Chicago. The other thing I suspect he'll try is to get Patrick Kane out more in the offensive zone, hopefully against Vancouver's bottom line. It'll definitely be interesting to see how the game changes when the teams change rinks.
Children of Light
3. Viktor Stalberg - I really liked Stalberg's game tonight. His goal involved a beautiful cut towards the middle of the ice, and yet his shot seemed to surprise Luongo, perhaps because Stalberg was able to use the defender in front of him as a screen. Stalberg was also careful not to make mistakes, which is a huge part of being effective in a depth role. His line with Fernando Pisani and Ryan Johnson rarely got into trouble, ate up clock, and potted a goal. Hard to ask much more than that.
2. Jannik Hansen - It wasn't all roses for Hansen. He took the game's first penalty early in the second period, which could have given the Hawks the lead that they desperately wanted. Unfortunately (for me), the penalty was quickly killed off and it was Hansen who scored the first goal of the game. The feisty Dane was also a pretty physical player, delivering two official hits, and winning more than his fair sure of battles along the boards. When it came time to protect the lead in the last minute, Hansen was out there again, and the team was successful in pushing Chicago to the outside, taking away any really good quality chances to score.
1. Daniel Sedin - Even if we just mention the scoring plays, Sedin had a wonderful game. His pass from behind the net to Hansen was a thing of beauty and gave the Canucks an early lead. His goal in the third period was also an amazing display of skill, although it certainly helped that Marian Hossa was caught covering for a defender on that one.
Children of Darkness
3. Alexander Edler - He started the game with a crushing hit on Patrick Kane, and had a few more good plays besides, but there were some things in Edler's game that I didn't like. In particular, his play on the Hawks' first goal was boneheaded. After all, how did Ben Smith get to the front of the net all alone on a two-on-three to pot the Blackhawks' first goal of the series? Well, Edler got sucked over to the puck-carrier for one, and then Henrik Sedin didn't come back to nab the man in front.
2. The Chicago Power Play - Most of the big contributors up front were quite good at even strength, so I didn't want to name just one guy, but in their two power play opportunities, the Hawks were absolutely atrocious, as you can see by their 0-2 chance differential. It's looked bad for two straight games now, and I find myself wanting Quenneville to try something new.
1. Brent Seabrook - If I had one word to describe his game tonight, it would be reckless. On Daniel Sedin's third period goal, Seabrook was caught pinching and it was a truly terrible pinch since there was little chance of him getting the puck, and a very high chance that he'd get caught since the puck was so deep. In the second, Seabrook got caught standing around when Ryan Kelser and Alexandre Burrows ran roughshod over Chicago's PP, which nearly cost his team another goal against. And since we don't want to leave it out, both Seabrook and Keith got caught together at the beginning of the first period, which led to a partial 2-on-0 rush the other way. If Chicago is coming to back in this series, both Seabrook and Duncan Keith will need to be much better.