What We Learned From Game 4
Though the Ducks game plan of getting physical with the Chicago defense corps payed off forcing uncharacteristic turnovers by Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks lived up to their championship pedigree in surviving the second fastest three goals in NHL playoff history. Chicago once again proved their resilience in the face of an Anaheim attack that had the better of play for the balance of the second period on, showing just how difficult it will be for the Ducks to close the coffin lid and dump the dirt on the current Western Conference standard.
What Needs to Change From Last Game
Frustrating as it may be, there aren't a ton of things that need altering outside of the final result. The shot attempt differential at five-on-five was modestly tipped in Chicago's favor at 75-69, but the Ducks had the better of the scoring chance creation at 32-28 with a 15-11 edge in high danger chance creation at even strength. From the second period on the Ducks did much better than Chicago getting a 45-26 shots on goal margin.
The pairing of Simon Despres and Cam Fowler was the one the Blackhawks far and away had the most success against, with Fowler on ice for 12 more attempts against and Despres a team-worst 21 attempts against for the entirety of the game. Bruce Boudreau has hinted that he'd consider changes on the backend with some members of the corps looking stretched this late in the postseason, so maybe this will be the game that James Wisniewski draws in- Tampa Bay had success in the critical game five at Madison Square Garden, using seven defensemen and 11 forwards against the Rangers.
Anaheim has dropped their last two overtime decisions, the first time since the 2013 Western Conference Quarterfinal against Detroit that the Ducks have lost multiple overtime games in a series (Anaheim lost three against the Red Wings). The Ducks dropped games two and four in overtime in the series before Nick Bonino won game five in the extra session, which made up a three game playoff overtime losing streak including a game five loss at Honda Center in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal to Jerred *bleeping* Smithson and Nashville. Anaheim's game two home overtime defeat was the first since dropping game one to Los Angeles in the 2014 Pacific Division Final. All-time the Ducks are 19-14 in playoff overtime contests, including a 7-5 mark at Honda Center; in the post-Jean-Sebastien Giguere era Anaheim is 5-9 in overtime in the playoffs, sporting a 2-3 mark at Honda Center.
The Ducks have allowed only three goals against in the third period by Chicago, with all coming in the fourth game. To put into perspective just how much the Blackhawks top defenseman have played this series, Keith has played 146:59, Brent Seabrook 142:42, Hjalmarsson 125:59 and Johnny Oduya 107:21. Percentage-wise those equate to 40.62% of action for Keith, 39.44% for Seabrook, 34.82% for Hjalmarsson and 29.67% of total action that the top four defenders for Chicago have played. The longer this series goes, the more you can expect to see both the time on ice and physical toll Anaheim have targeted Chicago defenseman to pay come in to play as far as determining game results. The Blackhawks have world class defenseman in their top four, but it is quite a price they have been asked to pay thus far in the series.
One of two trends through the first four games of the series will no longer prove decisive; either the team that scores first loses, or Anaheim will finally find the finishing touch in overtime.