The questions about which goaltender the Edmonton Oilers were going to start in Game 1 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks had been answered early Saturday as Mike Smith got the start in the first of a potential five-game series against the Blackhawks.
While not every goal could be blamed on Smith, it turned out not to be the right choice as Smith got lit up often and early, with the Blackhawks crushing the Oilers in the first two periods of play.
Eventually, Mikko Koskinen came in to replace Smith and settled the team down, but it was too little, too late as the Hawks wound up winning 6-4.
Chicago Isn’t Joking Around
The Blackhawks weren’t given much of a chance to contend in this NHL tournament, but after decisive wins over the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues in an exhibition game and a big opening-series win over Edmonton, it’s clear now, the Hawks are for real.
Dominik Kubalik scored two goals and four assists while Jonathan Toews had two markers and an assist to lead the way for Chicago. Patrick kane sealed it with an empty-net goal.
Dubalik set a record for the most points scored by a debuting NHL’er in the playoffs. It was a heck of a performance for a player who came on strong at the end of the regular season and could be one of the players to watch in these games moving forward.
Crawford Solid For Chicago
There were some questions about whether or not Corey Crawford would be ready for the series considering he joined the team late in camp after a positive COVID test. But, in the minutes he played against the St. Louis Blues during the Hawks exhibition game, Crawford looked strong. He looked strong again today, despite a late push from the Oilers in the third period.
Smith’s Struggles in Oilers Net
The speculation is that Smith’s experience and history with Dave Tippett is what got him the nod. They’ve been in the trenches together on a number of teams. For many Oilers fans, it was an odd decision considering how well Koskinen had played in the exhibition game.
Smith roamed on the first goal scored by Dylan Strome. That one was on him. The remainder were arguably great goals by the Blackhawks or defensive errors by Edmonton that left their netminder out to dry. It’s hard to know if Smith will get back in during this series.
Bright Spots for the Oilers
Edmonton’s power play scored three goals and Connor McDavid had a four-point game. Still, his line was outshot at a 3:1 clip and if that continues, the Oilers will struggle to win the series. Whether or not Tippett makes any chances prior to Game 2 on Monday night or not will be the talk in Oilers Nation leading into that game. There will certainly be some temptation to go back to the lines that ended the regular season.
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