We changed our policy here at the home office of the "5 Things' blog" People in Lightning sweaters are allowed -- heck, encouraged -- to read every bit of this piece about Tampa Bay's Game 1 choke:
1. The playoff rule demands that your stars play like stars.
In the Blackhawks’ case, their future stars apparently must play like stars, too.
With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane getting broken up and reunited and accomplishing nothing, Teuvo Teravainen scored the tying goal and set up Antoine Vermette’s winner shortly after in the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Teravainen is only 20, but already displays wondrous skating, passing and shooting skills. He has shown tremendous puck sense and vision that matches his poise.
He makes plays because he sees things that might not be open but will be in a moment, and half the time it seems he’s not even looking at the player to whom he’s going to pass. Jay Cutler could learn Teravainen’s ability to look off receivers.
And he’s only 20.
Teravainen had never played in the Stanley Cup Finals before Wednesday night, and when he did take the ice, he passed up several shots earlier in the game. But he learned quickly when Duncan Keith gave him the puck in the left circle after some ferocious work by Andrew Shaw.
Teravainen quickly followed the book on Ben Bishop by sailing a rising shot at the 6-foot-7 goalie, going to the blocker side and finding an inch of space under the cross bar through a Marcus Kruger screen. Quick study, that Teravainen.
Next, Teravainen checked the puck off J.T. Brown’s stick in the slot, sending it to Vermette, who fired on Bishop and got some more help from Brown's stick to deflect the puck high to the glove side.
Two-one, Hawks. Teravainen just stole Game 1 on the road.
Did I mention he’s only 20?
Since Joel Quenneville scratched him and Vermette for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, Teravainen has scored two goals and picked up five points in five games, none bigger than the last two on the biggest stage.
Teravainen became the second-youngest player to register a multi-point game in the finals, trailing only behind Jaromir Jagr, according to ESPN.
Teravainen’s creativity with Vermette’s faceoff talent and Patrick Sharp’s speed and shot give the Hawks a third scoring line that the Lightning can’t compete with.
However you want to argue the merits of the Steven Stamkos line and the Triplets compared to Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa and Brad Richards, the Hawks’ third line torches whatever Tampa Bay has left, and nobody among the bottom six forwards -- bottom five in the Lightning’s case -- is burning hotter than Teravainen.
And he’s only 20.
2. The Lightning choked Game 1 as much as the Hawks won it, and the Lightning did it the way a lot of teams blow leads: conceding two-thirds of the ice while trying to protect a lead.
It was as if the Lightning closed their eyes and hoped. You don’t need an advanced metric to determine a team turtling.
Instead of skating, moving the puck quickly and gaining the offensive zone the way they did to own the game most of the night, the Lightning helped the Hawks by going completely away from their strengths.
All of a sudden, the Hawks could dominate in the offensive zone after making uncontested zone exits after their zone exits the first two periods had been mostly miserable.
Smart teams play the style that earned them the lead. The Hawks, by the way, aren’t always smart about it, either. Teams that sink back at their blue line and allow opponents to use speed through the middle to gain the offensive zone are begging to give up goals.
If you’re trying to kill the clock to win a game, then kill it in the other team’s end. That’s what the Lightning did at the start, winning almost every faceoff, taking almost every shot, and stopping almost every clearing attempt.
It’s a wonder the Hawks weren't treated for windburn.
The Lightning were going tape-to-tape, breaking out easily on one pass and gaining the offensive zone just as easily.
The Lightning defensemen were pinching down to the hash marks to stifle Hawks clearing attempts, which were weak to start with.
The Lightning were too fast, too quick and too dominant.
The Hawks found some semblance of their game in the second half of the first period, holding the Lightning without a shot for the last eight minutes. But the Lightning owned the Corsi For game 19-9 and finished the first period with seven quality scoring chances compared to the Hawks’ one.
The Hawks did a better job of carrying play in the second period, but they blew a couple of power plays. From being dominated to being one shot away, and then they couldn’t even set up with the man-advantage. They were crazy inept.
Here’s how you know the Hawks are having a bad game: Kris Versteeg had a better Corsi For plus-minus after two periods than Duncan Keith, and when Keith’s plus-minus is barely above zero, the entire Hawks offense stinks.
One stratagem with which the Lightning had good success was dumping the puck into a corner softly and forcing the Hawks to chase while covering the usual outlets along the boards and in the circles to create turnovers as the Hawks tried their rote passes.
Then came the third period. The Hawks have always depended upon the stupidity of strangers.
3. One big reason Teravainen had a chance to become a star and the Lightning had a chance to choke was Corey Crawford.
The Hawks goalie who never gets top-tier respect despite winning a Cup stopped 22 of 23 shots, and none was bigger than the one on Ryan Callahan.
With 8:20 remaining in a game the Lightning led 1-0, the Hawks pressed for the tying goal and had all five players caught up ice as Callahan took a pass at center and bore down on Crawford.
Seeing some defensive help coming back, Crawford charged way out of his crease to cut down Callahan’s shooting angles and turn away the shot.
Less than two minutes later, Teravainen scored. You know the rest.
Callahan’s shot, by the way, was the Lightning’s first of the period, meaning Crawford sat through an intermission, and remember they’re longer in the finals, and then waited more than 11 minutes of game time before having something to do.
That was some kind of something, eh?
Don’t be fooled by the surprisingly low number of shots by the talented Lightning. They created 10 high-danger scoring chances, according to war-on-ice.com, twice as many as the Hawks managed.
Two of the most notable scoring chances saw Crawford stone Steven Stamkos point-blank late in the second period, once moving way out in front of his crease to challenge Stamkos in the left circle, the other time sucking up a one-timer from the doorstep.
The one goal Crawford allowed, meanwhile, was a miracle.
Only a hockey player who attended Harvard could’ve figured out the proper angle for the stick to accomplish a 90-degree turn of the puck and the determine the exact timing of the downswing needed while facing away from the net --- all in about three seconds --- to execute Alex Killorn’s redirection for the series’ first goal.
I hope that’s it for science pop quizzes in this Stanley Cup P.E. class.
4. Patrick Sharp has not had the offensive postseason that he or the Hawks want, and he didn’t get an assist on the winning goal, but his hustle started the series of Lightning turnovers that led to the decisive moment.
As the puck bounced off the right boards, hulking Lightning defensemen Victor Hedman corralled it and looked to make a play, but Sharp was on him too quickly.
Hedman had to move the puck toward the middle to J.T. Brown, who was stickchecked by Teravainen. The puck bounced right to Vermette, and you know the happy ending.
The goal reads Vermette from Teravainen. No second assist. But Sharp will settle for points in his dressing room.
5. Tripping over an opponent’s skates, ramming his face into the goal post, and getting called for goalie interference -- is that a Kris Versteeg hat trick?
Truth is, Versteeg had an excellent game after showing so badly in the Game 3 debacle against Anaheim.
Versteeg and linemates Brad Richards and Marian Hossa --- linemates most of the time, give or take a Quenneville spasm --- finished with a combined plus-28 in 5-on-5 Corsi For plus-minus, by far the team’s best line.
The trio also generated half of the Hawks’ 10 best scoring chances 5-on-5.
Using Score-Adjusted Corsi For, which accounts for leading teams' skewing puck-possession statistics by allowing line rush after line rush, Versteeg, Hossa and Richards were nearly as dominant. That tells you the unit was one of the few good things at a time when the Hawks were mostly bad.
a. Game 1 marked the first time this postseason that the Hawks won when Kane and Toews were shut out.
The problem with putting Kane and Toews on the same line to start a game is Quenneville has nothing scarier to turn to when the Hawks can’t score. But the move at least forces the Lightning to choose which Hawks star they want defensemen Hedman and Anton Stralman to face, which ideally frees up the other.
Interestingly, when Quenneville reunited Kane and Toews in the third period, he not only got them away from Stralman and Hedman, but saw his third line beat the Lightning’s top defensive pairing for the winning goal.
b. Skip this item if you hate autopsies of the the Hawks’ inexplicably bad power plays.
Midway through the second period, the Lightning were whistled for having too many men on the ice, if you can believe someone other than the Hawks could commit that penalty. The Hawks were being given their third straight power play, and this would be the last one for a while because that’s the way the NHL works.
They needed to score to tie the game. Instead, they wiped their noses with their sleeves. Here’s how it went:
- The Hawks lost the first faceoff, and the Lightning cleared.
- The Hawks tried to rim it around, and the Lightning cleared.
- Richards passed it out of the Lightning zone.
- Brandon Saad lost the puck in the slot and Bishop cleared it.
- Teravainen missed on a pass to Sharp, and the puck left the offensive zone.
- Teravainen lost it inside the Lightning blue line, and the Lightning cleared.
- The Hawks managed one good scoring chance during the two minutes, and it sailed over the net. Didn’t even count as a shot. Perfect.
c. Hedman said Shaw might’ve bitten him during a first period scrum. “It felt like it,’’ Hedman said. “I have a little bruise, so maybe.’’ Quick, someone tell Shaw that biting is Canucks-like sick stuff.
d. Taking questions on Twitter for Canada’s SportsNet, Hall-of-Famer and six-time Stanley Cup-winner Mark Messier was asked whether he’d rather have Toews or Kane as a linemate. “If I had either on my line right now,’’ Messier said, “I could still play.’’