One win. Nothing more, nothing less.
That’s the way the Blackhawks are looking at their impressive 6-4 victory over Edmonton on Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-five series.
“(The coaches are) still on us today to make sure that we’re pushing forward and (understanding) that we can’t just stop there obviously,” defenseman Connor Murphy said Sunday.
The Hawks got some bad news Sunday, however, when the NHL announced forward Drake Caggiula would be suspended for Game 2 on Monday. Caggiula hit Edmonton’s Tyler Ennis in the head with his right shoulder midway through the second period.
Caggiula (9 goals in 40 games) was skating on the third line with Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat. Dylan Sikura impressed during training camp and may be the favorite to replace Caggiula.
“He definitely wasn’t trying to catch him in the head, but he did,” said coach Jeremy Colliton. “Someone’s going to go in and make a difference.
“It’s also kind of established a standard for how they’re going to deal with those types of hits. As the series goes on, I’m sure it’s going to get a little more physical. So now we know.”
Here’s what else you should know about Game 2, which begins at 9:30 p.m.:
Edmonton looked lost, disinterested, passive and generally pathetic for large parts of Game 1.
That figures to change in a big way Monday. Because if it doesn’t, this series will be over in a hurry.
“We talked about being real solid in the first period and (we) go out and give up two odd-numbered breaks in the first two or three minutes,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett. “We just didn’t think very well and we didn’t elevate our game like we needed to. We need to regroup and make sure we’re ready for Game 2.”
Play simple, stupid:
We all know the Oilers have fantastic offensive talent. But guess what? Playoff hockey is a totally different animal.
The Hawks understood that in Game 1, while every Oilers player looked like they were hoping a teammate would save them from a turnover or a costly penalty.
“If you look at a team like Chicago, they obviously have a lot of experience in the playoffs and they play the right way,” said defenseman Oscar Klefbom. “We’ve just got to do the same and simplify things. If we’re going to be a consistent team, we’ve got to do the little things right.”
With Mike Smith allowing 5 goals in just 26.5 minutes Saturday, Tippett will almost certainly call upon Mikko Koskinen to start Game 2. For many, it was a surprise that Tippett didn’t go with Koskinen in the first place, considering he’s six years younger and had better overall numbers.
The 6-foot-7, 202-pound Koskinen and spent most of his career in the KHL. This is his second full season with the Oilers.
“Not sure you can really fault (Smith) on many of the goals,” said Hawks forward Dylan Strome. “A couple backdoors and a couple tips, and that one-timer by (Dominik Kubalik). Those are pretty tough goals to stop for anyone. …
“I’m not sure who’s going to start for Game 2, but just go in preparing like either one can start and we’ll go from there.”