As far as Game 1s of the Stanley Cup Finals go, this one was a little lacklustre; the much derided Guy Boucher 1-3-1 was still in full effect as the Tampa Bay Lightning tried to trap their way to a 1-0 victory.

The Stanley Cup Finals are always incredible hockey and sometimes it takes a game or two for teams to feel each other out, but Game 1 last night left a little to be desired. The intensity was fairly low, the ‘chippiness’ of years past wasn’t there, and the game was played with two teams trying to not make a mistake versus having their foots to the floor with heavy physical confrontation (combined with the elegant skill and beautiful execution of passing plays we’ve come to expect this year and in recent seasons with the core players of both teams).

The Lightning started off playing great hockey, coming at the Blackhawk in four line waves with dominant zone time, even using the second faceoff of the game, off an opening play icing, like a power play setup with Stamkos on the point opening up for a big shot. It showed the desperation that one loves to see in the SCFs, but halfway through the period the Blackhawks started coming on and the game retreated into a tactical battle of limiting scoring chances, with the balance of play favouring the Blackhawks.

Hopefully Game 2 has the opportunity to play without the Game 1 jitters and the play opens up for a bit. Tampa played a looser style throughout the regular season, but have found success with a different brand of hockey in the post-season by clamping down a chances against, clogging the neutral zone and providing ample back-pressure—a style of play that has become the norm across the league.

Chicago didn’t look themselves and still won the game. If Tampa can’t find another gear, this series will be over quickly. If this keeps up, it looks like the best series of these playoffs was probably the Western Conference Final featuring the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hawks vs Lightning

Regardless of the style of play, the ratings were good for game one:


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