Doc Emerick joked before the game that we could need all seven games to decide the series or until 1am to decide a Game 1 winner. Someone find that crystal ball he has, as we needed three overtimes to decide a winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It took us almost 40 years to get a Stanley Cup matchup between Original Six teams, but we got exactly that when the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks met int he Stanley Cup for Game 1 on Wednesday night. The Bruins got the Cup by playing harsh, physical hockey against the Pittsburgh Penguins and they continued that against Chicago.
Looking back at their series against both the Red Wings and Kings, the Blackhawks seemed to struggle when their opponent played physical hockey against them and that’s the Bruins specialty. But while they were able to get away with some cheap shots that allowed them to get inside the heads of the Penguins, Boston went to the penalty box three times in Game 1, but they simply flexed their penalty kill skills as a result.
Chicago had a 5-on-3 followed by two 5-on-4 power plays and managed just two shots on goal total during all three man advantages. Worse yet, they needed a goal to get back in the game and tie things with Boston at the time but Chicago came up empty when they desperately needed to tie things up in the second period.
However, the Blackhawks simply made up for their lack of goal scoring on the power play with two huge goals that brought them within one of the Bruins each time as Brandon Saad picked up a second period goal that got the Blackhawks on the board, but the Bruins offense got it right back and made things a 3-1 goal in the third. Rubbing salt in the wound, Boston pickedup their third goal of the night on their first power play of the night and they managed to get it rather early on in the power play.
That looked to the end of the Blackhawks but Johnny Oduya had other plans and finally tied the game up at 3-3 at the 12:14 mark of the final period of regulation. The question then became, as good as both netminders have been all postseason long, would we need extra hockey to decide a Game 1 winner? It turns out we actually needed three, and in that third overtime in the marathon that Game 1 ended up being, Andrew Shaw made the 117th shot of the game the final one.
Credit has to go to the Blackhawks offense for rocking netminder Tuukka Rask who was untouchable against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago scored not only the first goal Rask had allowed in 129 minutes of hockey, but they picked up three others to take Game 1. Its still rather early to say the Blackhawks have broken Rask, but they dismantled Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick in similar fashion with persistence and heavy shots.
They only got two shots on goal for their power plays in Game 1 but they got __ on Rask over the course of the game and that’s something that could wear down Rask. But while the Blackhawks get credit for peppering Rask with shots, the Bruins defense likely sliced that number in half from what it should have been as they blocked more than their fair share of shots away from Rask in Game 1.
Long story short, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup in no way defines this series, and if anything it’s further proof we’re likely going to need all seven to see who hoists Lord Stanley’s Cup when things are all said and done. Really, everyone wins because the only things Game 1 defines is that we’re all in for one heck of a series.