Black­hawks able to go deep

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - HE­LENE EL­LIOTT he­lene.el­liott@la­ Twit­ter: @he­le­nenothe­len

Chicago won Game 1 of Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal with­out get­ting a point from its two big­gest stars.

TAMPA, Fla. — That the Chicago Black­hawks de­feated the Tampa Bay Light­ning in Game 1 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal with­out get­ting points from cen­ter Jonathan Toews or right wing Pa­trick Kane is a tes­ta­ment to the West cham­pi­ons’ depth.

Late goals by Teuvo Ter­a­vainen and An­toine Ver­mette trig­gered the rally that al­lowed the Black­hawks to win their first game this spring in which Toews and Kane were blanked.

“It’s been that way all play­offs, to be hon­est with you. It seems like ev­ery game, some­one new steps up, some­one else is tear­ing it,” Kane said Fri­day. “I think we all kind of want to play as hard as we can and take ad­van­tage when the op­por­tu­nity is yours, but that’s why this team has been so suc­cess­ful — we have that depth, we have play­ers shift­ing in all the time, play­ers scor­ing big goals. It’s not like we’re just count­ing on one or two guys.”

The Black­hawks have con­sis­tently counted on Kane, who made a swift re­cov­ery from surgery on his clav­i­cle in late Fe­bru­ary and leads them in play­off scor­ing. He ranks sec­ond in goals in the league with 10 and sec­ond in points with 20; Toews is sev­enth in scor­ing with nine goals and 18 points.

Coach Joel Quen­neville some­times sep­a­rates them to get bet­ter scor­ing bal­ance, as he did un­til the last two games of the West­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal against the Ducks. And although he said he might sep­a­rate them Satur­day in Game 2 at Amalie Arena, he had them prac­tice to­gether Fri­day with Bran­don Saad on their left.

“It seems like he knows what he’s do­ing be­hind the bench,” Kane said. “It seems like when he breaks us up or puts us to­gether, it seems to be the right call and the right time.”

The Light­ning si­lenced them Wed­nes­day by de­ploy­ing cen­ter Cedric Pa­que­tte and de­fense­men Vic­tor Hed­man and An­ton Stral­man against them. But what worked once against Toews, the most valu­able player in Chicago’s 2010 Stan­ley Cup run, and Kane, the MVP in their 2013 tri­umph, might not work twice. That forces the Light­ning to re­main aware of the threat they pose separately and to­gether.

“Play­ing against those two guys is a big chal­lenge,” Hed­man said. “They had some zone time, but I think we did a good job of hav­ing good gaps and keep­ing them to the out­side. If you start puck-watch­ing, you’re go­ing to be in the stands when Kane has the puck. I think we did a good job most of the night to be in shoot­ing lanes and try to keep them to the out­side.…

“They have a deep lineup. For us, it’s about ap­proach­ing the game the same way ei­ther way. I don’t know if it’s go­ing to change some matchup. We’re ready for what­ever chal­lenge they throw at us.”

Tampa Bay didn’t ap­pear to be plan­ning any lineup changes, con­sis­tent with its be­lief that its game plan was fine un­til play­ers be­came too con­ser­va­tive while pro­tect­ing a 1-0 lead in the third pe­riod. The Light­ning has lost three of its four play­off open­ers, so trail­ing in a se­ries is noth­ing new.

“Ob­vi­ously, it’s not ideal,” de­fense­man Matt Carle said.

But team­mate Alex Kil­lorn said it can be over­come. “It’s hav­ing a short mem­ory, com­ing back harder,” Kil­lorn said. “We’ve been a re­silient group, and you have to have a short mem­ory in th­ese play­offs.”

The Black­hawks are likely to have the same lineup in Game 2 af­ter Quen­neville said he was in­clined not to bring in de­fense­man Trevor van Riems­dyk, who hasn’t played an NHL game since Novem­ber be­cause of in­juries. Left wing Bryan Bick­ell is ques­tion­able be­cause of an undis­closed in­jury that he said is not a con­cus­sion; Kris Ver­steeg re­placed him in Game 1.

The best change for the Black­hawks would be to get scor­ing from Kane, who had 27 goals and 64 points in 61 regular-sea­son games be­fore his in­jury and surgery. He has had to im­prove his de­fen­sive play over the years to sur­vive in the in­creas­ingly de­fense-ori­ented NHL, but he still has the abil­ity to be a game-breaker, and now can cre­ate of­fense out of sound de­fense.

“I think it’s good for the league that the fi­nal two teams have that of­fen­sive punch and have the star power,” Kane said. “It’s not like it’s two strictly de­fen­sive teams that try to win the game 1-0 or 2-1. We can win that way. We can also win by scor­ing a lot of goals too.

“With a team like this, I think we try to stress de­fense first. When we get those turnovers and go the other way, it seems like Coach Q gives us the free­dom to make plays as long as they’re smart plays and not putting us in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. To have that free­dom, you can’t re­ally ask for much more.”

All they can ask of him is to score goals. He usu­ally de­liv­ers.

An­thony Souf­fle Chicago Tri­bune

CHICAGO’S PA­TRICK KANE (88) works against Tampa Bay’s An­ton Stral­man (6) and On­drej Palat. Kane leads the Black­hawks in play­off scor­ing but was score­less in Game 1.

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