CHICAGO -- Despite having a 1-0 lead in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, the Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of areas to improve upon heading into Game 2 Monday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). Then again, so do the Philadelphia Flyers.
1. Clean up their act:
The Blackhawks were credited on the final stat sheet with 11 giveaways Saturday night, but that number has to be skewed because for two periods Sharp they were coughing up the puck every other shift. Whether it was in the offensive zone, at the blue line or in the defensive zone, the Hawks were too liberal with some of their passes and it burned them. The Flyers scored three of their goals off Chicago turnovers. The Hawks got better in the third period because they used their speed and were smart with their decisions. The stretch pass doesn't always work, so don't use it all the time.
"Both teams have guys that can put the puck in the net, and given the opportunity they can do that," Patrick Sharp said. "Hopefully we'll limit their chances tomorrow night, tighten things up."
1. Hang loose:
The Flyers can't panic. Yes, they lost Game 1 and did it in a way that reflected very poorly on the tenets of Flyer hockey. Briere But in the light of day, it is just one loss; a one-goal loss, no less.
Heck, the Flyers were down three games against Boston and found a way to win the race to four. So, Philadelphia must take the positives from Game 1 and build upon that in Monday's Game 2.
"It's never over until it's completely over, and we hear that cliche all the time," forward Danny Briere said. "I feel it's never been as more true as it is with this team. So, yes, even being down 1-0, to us, we know there's still a long ways to go in this series, and we feel confident that we can come back."
Kris Versteeg said there was a lot of screaming and yelling on the Hawks' bench in Game 1. Jonathan Toews admitted they did play out of control at times. Sharp said intermission Versteeg couldn't come soon enough after the first and second periods because the Blackhawks needed the break to calm down and regain composure. Nerves should not be an issue in Game 2. The Hawks should be composed and confident with a 1-0 lead in the series. They have to play that way from the start.
"A couple of times we weren't playing our game, the way we know we can, but we'll simplify things and figure it out," Toews said. "We did in the third period." 2. Protect the house:
More than half of Chicago's goals in Game 1 featured an unchecked player in the slot doing the scoring damage. The Hawks Carle generated a lot of their most dangerous plays by taking the puck behind the goal line and feeding it back into the slot, which seemed to break down Philadelphia's own-zone coverage. Defenseman Matt Carle believes the Flyers must do a better job of taking away those slot targets for the Chicago puck carriers.
"We want to cover the home base around the net," defenseman Matt Carle told NHL.com. "We need to do a better job doing that. We have to be stronger on them." 3. Pull out the big guns:
Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien had their worst game as a line in these playoffs. They were a combined minus-9 with only five shots on goal. Byfuglien Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of all his forward lines, the top line was the one that had to be better. The second and third lines picked up the scoring slack for Toews, Kane and Byfuglien, but that won't happen all the time. The big boys have to be factors in Game 2.
"Five-on-five, I think we can play a lot better, collectively as a line," Kane said. "Buff had 10 hits, but that just shows how much we were chasing the puck around. Sometimes it's good when he has a lot of hits and he's getting the puck back and we're making plays. But we don't want him to have that many. We want to have the puck and be making plays." 3. Attention to detail:
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was not pleased with his team's willingness to engage in the 1-on-1 battles that define Laviolette hockey success. Nowhere, he says, was that more evident than in the faceoff circle. Chicago dominated draws all night, losing 40 of 64 faceoffs Saturday night. Philadelphia also only blocked seven shots.
"Faceoffs give you a state of the team and where it is at," Laviolette said. "Hockey is a very competitive game. It is about 1-on-1 battles and winning those 1-on-1 battles and most originate in the faceoff circle. To me, we have to compete better." 4. Bring in the closer:
The Blackhawks got it right at the end of the third period, but they were too loose at the end of the first and second periods and got burned by goals Quenneville from Danny Briere and Arron Asham. Briere gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead with 26.1 seconds left in the first. Asham tied the game at 5-5 with 1:11 left in the second. Chicago survived the late goals Saturday, but that doesn't happen often. The Hawks have to be smarter late in periods.
"I thought we were a little scrambly, more so with the puck than we've been throughout most of the playoffs," Quenneville said. "I know we have to be better than we were based off of those levels that we had (Saturday) night." 4. Let's get physical:
Every player in the Flyers lineup except Ian Laperriere threw at least one body check, according to the NHL's real-time Pronger stats. When the game was over, Philadelphia had a very respectable 40 hits, which were three more hits than the Blackhawks managed. But the Flyers are the first to admit that they weren't effective in using their body in Game 1. They must punish the smaller, faster Hawks at every turn, especially on the forecheck.
"I think we got off track by not getting the puck in deep and being physical in that respect," Defenseman Chris Pronger said. 5. And the Oscar goes to ... :
We'll preface this by saying we're not asking the Hawks to stage a show in order to draw a power play, but even Quenneville said they have to work Brouwer a little harder to earn one. Disagree if you want, but they obviously didn't do enough Saturday. The Flyers were not whistled for a single penalty.
"It definitely gives us confidence knowing we can score 5-on-5," Troy Brouwer said. "The power plays will come, but we're not a team completely based on our power play, even though we do have a very skilled team and a great power play." 5. Slow things down:
The Philadelphia Flyers are not designed to trade changes with the high-flying, quick-strike Hawks. But that is just what Laperriere they did in Game 1.
"It's more fun to play like that; it's wide-open hockey," Laperriere told NHL.com. "But, we have to use our strengths and our weaknesses. That's not our strength. Our strong point is to be strong defensively and wait for our chances."