Hawks-Kings Game 1
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1. Expect to get punished by an aggressive Los Angeles forecheck: There’s an old saying in hockey that sometimes you’ve got to take a hit to make a play. When you are playing the Kings, change “sometimes” to “always.” Not only are they big, but up front they are fast and like to finish their checks. This can be intimidating when you are a defenseman being hunted down by a freight train that’s trying to put you into tomorrow. You might have to take a hit to make the right play.
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2. Winning, thy name is Discipline: Discipline was finally a factor for the Blackhawks in the playoffs for the first time in a long time. They let it slip away from them in Games 3 and 4 in Detroit, and it cost them both contests. Even their captain got caught up in the after-whistle shenanigans, and it clearly threw him off his game. That can’t happen against the Kings. They play mean, and you can’t let your frustration bleed into your game because they will take advantage of it. Play hard whistle to whistle, and skate away from the stupid stuff.
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3. Clean exits with precise passing: Chicago plays their best when they are passing the puck well. The puck moves a lot faster than any player can skate. The problems start when that first pass is not of the tape to tape variety. When a player has to readjust to pick up an errant pass, bad things usually happen. It goes back to Key No. 1, you might have to pay a price and take some extra time to make sure you make a good first pass. If you rush it or bail out, Los Angeles will end up with the puck in your end.