CHICAGO -- One game may be a little early to start drawing conclusions, but it does seem as if the memo telling the Blackhawks and Flyers that shootouts are not supposed to be part of the Stanley Cup Finals got lost.
|'It's something you can't explain,' Kris Versteeg says. ' ... both teams got exposed. It was a very strange night.' (Getty Images)|
No doubt anyone who craves similar high-scoring affairs can only hope the remainder of this Final series will feature much more of the kind of energy-induced, often frenetic offensive show that Chicago's 6-5 win over Philadelphia produced in the series opener.
Both teams in this series have the talent and depth to score a lot of goals. And that's what both teams are leery about.
"When you score five goals, more than likely you should win a hockey game, so it's really frustrating, but besides that, this isn't the way you're supposed to play in the Stanley Cup Final," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "Our defensive zone coverage was quite poor and they were getting a lot of chances in front of the net uncontested. We can't be giving up those shots from the slot, especially with the shooters they have, you can't afford to leave them alone. Obviously there's lots of things we need to improve on. We'll definitely be watching a lot of videos tomorrow."
The Flyers might actually want to burn them considering how many chances they had to win. They scored what is usually the important first goal of the game less than seven minutes, and after the Blackhawks stormed back with a pair, Philadelphia tied and went into the first intermission leading because Danny Briere hit the back of the net with 27 seconds left in the opening period.
Then again the Blackhawks might not want to keep this one for posterity either, even if they found a way to pull it out for the 22,312 delirious fans in the Madhouse on Madison.
• Game 1: Blackhawks 6, Flyers 5
"It's really something you can't explain," Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg said. "Maybe it's because both teams waited so long to get this started, maybe it's because we haven't played each even if you know guys are skilled. But when you see guys making silly little plays, sweet plays really -- behind the back or through the leg passes -- you're not quite use to it.
"That's why both teams got exposed and why we have to tighten up defensively. But it was still a very strange night."
In so many ways.
To begin with, this was a game which had two goaltenders -- Chicago's Antti Niemi and Philadelphia's Michael Leighton -- who were among the top feel-good stories of these playoffs as the starters, yet there were 11 goals scored on just 60 shots. Five of those goals came in the first period, which made it the highest scoring opening frame in a Game 1 since the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks combined for that total in 1982. And Leighton even got pulled in what was a still a one-goal game at the time.
Still the goalies weren't the only ones making you scratch your head.
There was Chicago's explosive attack doing its thing, yet managing to do all its damage without its vaunted power play getting in on the act. Of course the Blackhawks' man-advantage unit never had a chance because the Flyers, yes the Flyers, did not take a penalty in this game.
|Gm 1||BLACKHAWKS 6, Flyers 5|
|Gm 2||BLACKHAWKS 2, Flyers 1|
|Gm 3||FLYERS 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)|
|Gm 4||FLYERS 5, Blackhawks 3|
|Gm 5||BLACKHAWKS 7, Flyers 4|
|Gm 6||Blackhawks 4, FLYERS 3 (OT)|
|Home team in CAPS|
"Well, it definitely gives us confidence knowing we can score five on five, the power plays will come," rationalized Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer, who had a big night with a pair of goals and an assist. "We're not a team completely based on our power play, even though we do have a very skilled team and a great power play. As long as the goals are coming from wherever the goals are coming, we're OK."
But on this night, there were other lines to pick up the Blackhawks, most notably the Dave Bolland unit that had him and wingers Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky combine for the winning goal in the third period.
Ironically, the key play was made by defenseman Brent Seabrook, who didn't get in on the scoring summary because of it. Seabrook kept the puck in the Flyers zone despite losing his balance at the blue line, and Bolland got it deep to Versteeg, who found Kopecky unattended on the far side. Kopecky made a neat move and beat Brian Boucher for the only goal in a third period that actually looked like a more typical Stanley Cup Final game.
"Things settled down as the game progressed, certainly and we improved as the game went on, but I don't think anybody envisioned a 5-5 game heading into the third period," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We stressed defense and a defense-first approach. But I think we got away from it tonight."
Next time they should read the memo.