We’ve all watched an NCAA March Madness tournament before. In those tournaments, there have always been these Cinderella story teams, who have these magical runs. In the NHL this season, you’d never expect a team like the Chicago Blackhawks to be in this Cinderella story position. Well, here the Blackhawks are just beating the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round. Keep in mind the Blackhawks were the 12th seed. Now the Blackhawks will face off against the Vegas Golden Knights in the actual first round of the playoffs. Before we look at that matchup, let’s see what impressed us against the Oilers.
Small Recap of Series against the Edmonton Oilers
In the 2020 Qualifying Round, the Chicago Blackhawks surprised everyone by beating the Edmonton Oilers three games to one. Chicago won the first game thanks to Jonathan Toews and rookie Dominik Kubalik, who scored two goals. In game two, Connor McDavid‘s hat trick helped the Oilers to tie the series.
But thankfully, this didn’t distract the Blackhawks as they won game three thanks once again to a two-goal performance of Jonathan Toews. In game four, the rookie Dominik Kubalik shined once more as he scored two goals to eliminate the Oilers. Now let’s see how this Blackhawks offense could do against an excellent Vegas team.
Have you ever heard of the term opposites attract? Well, I see it working for the Chicago Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews has been with the Blackhawks since 2007. Here he is now at 32 years old, and he still wants another cup. In those four games against the Oilers, he had seven points, scoring four goals and three assists. But you may want to watch out for the name Dominik Kubalik as the Blackhawk rookie seems to be dominating.
His five-point performance in game one was a record. Kubalik is the first to have that many points in a postseason debut. But while those two were the leading stars, the Blackhawks had one other player look better too. Take Kirby Dach, who had four assists in this series. Despite not looking very strong in the regular season, he’s looking a lot better. But the players that need to improve quickly are Alexander Nylander and Dylan Strome. They both struggled this series and need to recover fast.
The defense for the Blackhawks had some issues. The pairings of Duncan Keith and Adam Boqvist and Olli Maatta and Slater Koekkoek looked OK. However, they were inconsistent when on the ice. The second pairing included Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy. If you looked in this series, they got charged to shut down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. As you can recall in game two of that series, that plan didn’t work out so well, as McDavid scored a hat trick. If I’m head coach Jeremy Colliton, I will make a few changes to the defensive pairings. You’re facing players like Alex Tuch and Mark Stone.
Goaltending and Special Teams
For Corey Crawford, his first few games didn’t look so good. Allowing seven goals in the first two games, Crawford looked a bit off. But you can’t blame him, as he was infected with COVID earlier this year. He couldn’t have had much practice in camp to work on things. But by the time the 4th game came around, he dialed in and help the Blackhawks win.
For the special teams, they seemed to be all right. The powerplay did OK, but as the defense, it was very inconsistent. One of the units created many chances, while the other group was abysmal. When your second unit has those struggling players I mentioned earlier, you know how bad it looks. Despite all of those issues, the penalty killing did all right. But that’s another aspect to improve when playing the Golden Knights.
For the Blackhawks, this series against the Vegas Golden Knights could mean one of two things. We could see another Blackhawks upset, or the Golden Knights easily beat them. This series will offer a considerable test. We want to see if the Blackhawks will be this team that many will watch in these playoffs. If the Blackhawks fix their issues with defense, they will be fine. However, if they continue to have the same problems, don’t be surprised if the Golden Knights rout them. But I will be cheering on the Blackhawks over the Golden Knights for an upset that’s for sure.
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