Hawks must get scorers more involved in Game 2
DETROIT - Patrick Kane knew he was having a tough time finding open ice on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't until after the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the Red Wings in Game 1 of the Western Conference that he saw the proof.
Shots on goal: none for Kane.
"I was looking at the (stats) sheet after and it was like (Niklas) Hjalmarsson, (Matt) Walker and myself no with shots," Kane said Monday. "I said, 'Wow, this isn't good.' You want to create more, obviously, but every time I seemed to get the puck there were three guys collapsing on me."
Getting their scorers more involved is the biggest challenge for the Hawks heading into Game 2 of the best-of-seven series tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
The Hawks' top line of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer was locked down by Detroit's line of Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also has his top defensive pairing of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on the ice whenever Kane and Toews were there.
Lidstrom, the six-time Norris Trophy winner and cinch Hall of Famer, remains the most frustrating defenseman to play against because of the way he is always in the right position and uses his stick better than anyone to steal pucks.
"The thing is against him is you need to be hungry to keep the puck and not give it up," Toews said. "He's just so smart positionally and with the puck. He knows when the checks and the pressure are coming. If you keep the puck away from him, you're doing a good job."
Kane says there are times he thinks he has Lidstrom beat only to find that's not the case.
"He's just got a really good stick," Kane said. "Sometimes you think you have the puck and he chips it by you. Lidstrom is not going to play you physical, but he's going to knock the puck away from you and what better defense is that?"
The unassuming Lidstrom respects what Toews and Kane can do on the ice.
"Our whole group of five did a good job against that line," Lidstrom said. "They're shifty players, very gifted in the offensive zone. You want to try and stay close to them all the time and not give them time and space. If you back off and give them time, they're going to make plays. I thought our forwards came back hard (and) put pressure on them."
Sunday wasn't the first time in the playoffs Kane came up empty, but he has rebounded with big efforts. It was the first time in the playoffs he went without a shot on goal.
"That's why I was brought in here as a draft pick," Kane said. "That's what I'm out there to do. I'm not out there to block shots or fight guys. I'm out there to produce offensively.
"You want to create chances out there, but a lot of that comes on the power play, and we had only one power play."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville thinks Kane will find a way to make a difference before the series is over.
"Top players eventually get their chance to break through," Quenneville said.
The Hawks need more from all their top players in Game 2, and not just Kane and Toews.
Defensemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith weren't as sharp in the series opener, Martin Havlat and Dave Bolland were too quiet, and while Nikolai Khabibulin made 38 saves, his save percentage for the playoffs still is a way-too-low .897.
"We need to have the puck in their zone more and away from our net, but the bottom line is we just didn't play well," Toews said. "We need to play harder. We need to be hungrier to score.
"Sometimes when you play a game like that you're looser in the next one because you know it's not going to get worse than that. We can go out and play loose and play much harder, and know if we do that we'll see more positives and see a better outcome."
Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, 6:30 p.m.
Radio: WIND 560-AM
At a glance: Down 1-0 to a great Red Wings team, is this a do-or-die game for the Hawks? "I don't think so," Adam Burish said. "It's still a best-of-seven series, but this is the most important game we've played." The Hawks need to manage the puck better, particularly the Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland lines. They were 1-for-1 on the power play in Game 1 but didn't skate well enough to deserve any more opportunities.
Red Wings' line combinations
Johan Franzen-Henrik Zetterberg-Dan Cleary
Tomas Hjolmstrom-Pavel Datsyuk-Marian Hossa
Jiri Hudler-Valtteri Filppula-Mikael Samuelsson
Darren Helm-Kris Draper-Justin Abdelkader
Nicklas Lidstrom-Brian Rafalski
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Brett Lebda-Jonathan Ericsson
Hawks line combinations
Troy Brouwer-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane
Andrew Ladd-Dave Bolland-Martin Havlat
Kris Versteeg-Sammy Pahlsson-Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Eager-Adam Burish-Patrick Sharp
Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Cam Barker-Matt Walker
Next: Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center, 7 p.m. Friday