The Chicago Blackhawks went into Tampa Bay and for all intents and purposes, stole Game 1. However, the Blackhawks have been finding ways to win this entire postseason. They’re just a cut above Tampa Bay and that’s one of the things we learned in Game 1.
Chicago Can Execute Better
While there are all sorts of tangibles that can be measured in a series and you can debate who is the better team, but when you measure the intangibles, the Blackhawks are clearly the better team. We saw it again in Game 1 as the Blackhawks went on the road to Tampa Bay and won on the road. The Lightning had won more home games than any other team in the regular season, yet the Blackhawks still took care of business.
The biggest issue is that the Lightning are going to be wondering how they eventually lost. They dominated the first period, were ahead for most of the game, yet after a quick blink of the eye in the third period, they trailed 2-1 and eventually lost.
The Blackhawks clearly know what it takes to get it done and they’re going to do whatever is necessary. The Lightning are not on that level of execution right now and that was evident in Game 1.
Corey Crawford Can Outplay Ben Bishop
Although many people were impressed with Ben Bishop’s effort to start the night, by the end of it, it was clear that Crawford was on another level. Sure, the two of them made roughly the same amount of saves but the difference is that Crawford made the saves when he had to and Bishop couldn’t.
With the Blackhawks trailing 1-0, Ryan Callahan got loose in a breakaway and Crawford made the necessary save to keep his team in the game. He made a number of important saves – especially in the first when it looked like the Lightning were shot out of a cannon. However, Crawford weathered the storm and gave his team a chance.
Although the perception is that Crawford has had a weak postseason, he has gotten stronger by the round and at this point, the goaltending matchup is about even or in Chicago’s favor. That’ll have to change if Tampa Bay wants to get back in this.
The Lightning Have Lost Their Touch At Home
One of the reasons why the Lightning were a home dog on the series lines is that nobody believed this team’s home-ice advantage would be a factor. Well, after one game of the Stanley Cup final, they don’t have a home-ice advantage anymore.
The Lightning won 31 games at home in the regular season, which was more than any other team in the NHL. However, they are now just 5-6 in the playoffs and find themselves in a desperate spot in Game 2. They have to find a way to win because if they fall to 5-7 at home in these playoffs, this series is done.
At any rate, Tampa Bay has lost their touch at home and that’s going to be one of their downfalls.