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Game 2 Preview: Opportunity Knocks

Two days after beating the Blackhawks in the closest 4-1 game ever played, the Ducks look to take a 2-0 series lead while their opponent looks to earn a split in Anaheim before returning home

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned From Game 1

At the most general level, we learned that the Ducks can play with the Hawks. After Frederik Andersen bailed his boys out of the first period, they responded with two solid periods. Not two mistake-free periods, or two dominant periods, but two solid periods.

More specifically, we learned that there is hope for the bottom six. Nate Thompson and Kyle Palmieri played their best games of the postseason, and alongside the always-effective Andrew Cogliano they made for a strong third line. The new-look fourth line of Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem, and Jiri Sekac also impressed, almost certainly earning themselves the same lineup for Game 2.

We are also continuing to learn that the Simon Despres trade was the best Bob Murray has made since acquiring Ryan Kesler. That may not be the world's highest standard, but it's also not the world's lowest. Point is, Despres played yet another strong game on Sunday.

Perhaps even more encouraging, we learned that the strength of Chicago's top four D does not necessarily make up for the weakness of their bottom two, regardless of where those two are placed in the lineup. David Rundblad had a rough game on Sunday, so Joel Quenneville is going to replace him with Kyle Cumiskey. Aside from that, the Ducks were extremely physical with the rest of the Hawks' defense, and Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson looked particularly beaten up during the game.

What Needs To Change From Game 1

Despite the 4-1 score, the Ducks can't afford to play the same game they did on Sunday. The first period was characterized by turnover after turnover, and only a miraculous stick save and several other good saves by Andersen kept the Hawks from grabbing a multi-goal lead in the first twenty. And then there was the Francois Beauchemin turnover that led directly to Brad Richards' goal. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Besides cutting down on turnovers, the Ducks also need to press a little more in the offensive zone. Both teams' superstar forwards were quiet on Sunday, and whichever group gets going sooner is going to have a huge edge. If nothing else, the Ducks need to play with the puck more so they can draw more penalties. One power play a game will not be enough to win this series.

Game Notes

Ryan Kesler took a "maintenance day" on Monday and did not skate at practice. It appears Bruce Boudreau will ice the same lineup he used on Sunday, and Joel Quenneville will leave his forward lines as they were. According to Chicago beat writer Mark Lazerus, Cumiskey practiced on his off side next to Johnny Oduya on Monday, and the D pairings looked like this:

Duncan Keith — Niklas Hjalmarsson

Kimmo Timonen — Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya — Kyle Cumiskey

Sounds about right. As was the case on Sunday, these pairing will get shuffled around because Timonen and Cumiskey will play far fewer minutes than anyone else and Keith will play more than anyone.

Fearless Prediction

To make up for their most recent performance, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane will combine for seven points.