CHICAGO | Surely, nearly six consecutive periods of hockey was enough for the Blackhawks to take the measure of the Boston Bruins, a team they had not played since Oct. 15, 2011.
What they likely came away with in their memorable 4-3 triple overtime victory Wednesday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final were some basic lessons.
Don’t fall behind two goals into the third period against goalie Tuukka Rask, then figure a third-line center (Dave Bolland) and a defenseman (Johnny Oduya), via a deflection off a Bruins counterpart, to tie it up. Most of all, don’t ask your own stellar goalie, Corey Crawford, to practically stand on his head to save you single-handedly through most of the three extra periods. The Hawks won the game the hard way.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville made his tuneups for Game 2 tonight during the first practice Friday since the fifth longest game in Finals history.
“I think the extra day was probably good for everybody, because it was such a taxing game,” Quenneville said. “I think everybody could use what went on yesterday, resting. You can see today in practice, we got better as we got out there.
“I think everybody will be fresh and excited to go. We had some extra days in other series, as well, in between games. I think once we get the next three games, starting (tonight) they're bing, bing, bing, so we're back to the normal schedule.”
One strategy Quenneville must settle on is which combination of forwards or defensemen should be rotated onto the Bruins’ David Krejci, the Bruins’ leading postseason scorer with nine goals and 14 assists.
“I think over the course of the season, the back end was something we look at,” Quenneville said. “But I think the one thing this year that we're pleased about all year long is all four lines, we can be comfortable against anybody.”
Crawford did not bite when asked if the triple-overtime gave him a chance to get a good book on the best single Bruin’s moves around the net.
“They’ve got a lot of good players,” he said. “It just doesn’t narrow down to one. Every guy plays a little differently. You can’t just look at one guy. They play the game hard.”
The Hawks also will need to find a way to clear more spaces near Rask. The Bruins blocked 40 shots in Game 1. The Hawks blocked 23.
That’s part of a physical game experienced by Brandon Bollig, activated to the Hawks’ fourth line Wednesday for his bruising style to counter Boston’s.
“Obviously, they came out there and played their game,” he said. “But I think we did a great job. We actually out-hit them by a couple of hits (61-59). That’s exactly what we want to do – counteract their own game and use our speed as well.”