Biggest Takeaways from Saturday's NHL Playoff Action

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2013

Biggest Takeaways from Saturday's NHL Playoff Action

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    Home domination for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks?

    Not any longer.

    The seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings showed they weren't just happy to be there. Instead, they wanted to make their presence felt and win a game on the Blackhawks' home ice.

    Not only did Mike Babcock's team accomplish its goal, but Detroit did it in convincing fashion in a 4-1 win.

    In the other Western Conference semifinal, the San Jose Sharks showed the Los Angeles Kings they are not going to go away easily, either. They beat the Kings, 2-1, in overtime at the Shark Tank and got back into the series.

    Here are the biggest takeaways from Saturday's games.

Blackhawks Lack Sufficient Effort

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    The Chicago Blackhawks may have thought that by showing up on their home ice, they would easily be able to hold serve and punish the Detroit Red Wings.

    The Blackhawks had beaten the Red Wings in all four regular-season meetings, and they had won easily in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.

    Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks the early lead with a first-period goal, but there was little to cheer about the rest of the way. The Blackhawks were out-staked, outshot and outplayed for the last 40 minutes by a wide margin.

    The shots on goal in the game tell the story. The Blackhawks were outshot, 30-20, and they rarely tested Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard after the first period.

    The Blackhawks were known to play with speed, precision and maximum effort throughout their stellar season. All three elements were missing in this game.

    Head coach Joel Quenneville acknowledged the Blackhawks did not play with their best effort.

    “I thought our game was way off as far as the pace that was needed,” Quenneville told's Jesse Rogers. “We weren’t smart in some certain areas.”

Red Wings Show Their Skill

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    The Red Wings knew they had to send a proper message to the Blackhawks in Game 2 of their playoff series.

    The message was not about toughness or physical play. The message was about skill level.

    The Red Wings were the more skilled team in this game.

    Early in the second period, Detroit rookie Damien Brunner showed his deft touch when he deflected Jakub Kindl's blast into the net for the game-tying goal. Later in the second period, Henrik Zetterberg made the perfect pass to Brendan Smith for the eventual game-winning goal.

    In the third period, Johan Franzen fired a quick wrist shot over Corey Crawford's shoulder and Valtteri Filppula closed out the scoring with a sweet-as-sugar backhander between Crawford's legs.

    The Red Wings showed the Blackhawks that they aren't the only team in the series with a high skill level as they scored four artistic goals.

Jonathan Toews, Where Are You?

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    Jonathan Toews is the elephant in the room.

    He is clearly the Blackhawks' best player, and he is a legitimate MVP candidate—even if he wasn't in the group of Hart Trophy finalists that included Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares.

    Toews can do it all, and his Captain Serious nickname makes it clear that he never relaxes on the ice.

    While he is much more than a scorer, he can handle the offensive responsibilities of the game very well.

    However, Toews has not scored a goal in the playoffs this year.

    The Blackhawks waltzed past the Minnesota Wild in the first round, so Toews' lack of scoring didn't matter.

    Now that the Red Wings have shown they are going to take the fight to the Blackhawks, Toews' lack of scoring matters quite a bit. He needs to start scoring right away.

Your Move, Mr. Quenneville

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    After getting beaten decisively in Game 1, Detroit head coach Mike Babcock knew he had to make adjustments to get his team into the series.

    He responded by putting stalwart captain Henrik Zetterberg on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. The move worked dramatically, as Toews and the Blackhawks were nearly invisible on the offensive end.

    Now, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville must make the next move. He has to figure out a way to unlock his team's offense, which was dormant in Game 2.

    Quenneville may decide to give speedy Viktor Stalberg some playing time after benching him in the first two games of the series.

Boyle Gives Sharks an Early Lead

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    Dan Boyle got the Sharks off to a good start, which is something they needed to happen. Boyle blasted one home from just inside the blue line at the 1:34 mark of the first period.

    That was the perfect start for the Sharks. Jonathan Quick is nearly impenetrable, and to get an early goal on him gave the Sharks some early confidence.

    They took the play to the Kings for the majority of the game, and it finally paid off when they won the game in overtime.

    Boyle moved to the top of the Sharks' all-time-leading-scorers list among defensemen with his 10th career postseason goal.

Jonathan Quick Remains the Truth

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    Jonathan Quick was not able to keep the Kings' six-game winning streak intact.

    The Kings did as little as possible to compete on even terms with the Sharks in the third game of the series.

    They were out-skated, outworked and outplayed throughout the game.

    The only reason they were able to send this game into overtime was the brilliant work of Quick.

    While it's not unusual for Quick to provide acrobatic and theatrical saves, this time he did it without any support from his teammates.

    The Kings were outshot, 40-27. Quick stopped 38 shots, but he was unable to do anything to stop Logan Couture from flicking his game-winner to the roof of the net early in overtime.

Logan Couture Plays the Role of Hero

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    Logan Couture had a good-news, bad-news kind of night in Game 3 for the Sharks.

    Early in the second period, Couture collided with Jeff Carter along the boards. It was not a particularly vicious hit, but Couture appeared to injure his left ankle. He immediately left the ice and went to the Sharks' dressing room.

    He returned in the third period, but he was not moving at top speed, and he appeared to be in pain. But Couture knows the hockey player's mantra, and he sucked it up and continued to play. Early in overtime, Couture cashed in a big ticket for the Sharks.

    He converted a slick pass from Patrick Marleau and beat Quick for the game-winning goal.

    The Sharks had their home-ice win and are now back in the series.

A Goal Scorer Is Born

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    The Kings have been one of the best road teams in recent Stanley Cup history.

    However, they failed to play their usual strong away game against the Sharks in the third game of the Western Conference semifinal series.

    The only player to make a positive impression besides Quick was rookie forward Tyler Toffoli.

    After the Sharks had set the tone for the night by taking an early 1-0 lead, Toffoli got the Kings back in the game.

    Cruising with speed in the Kings' zone, Toffoli picked up a turnover in the slot. The right-handed shot had the puck on his backhand, and he fired a rocket past Antti Niemi to tie the score. It was the first postseason goal of his career.

    It was not unusual to see a player score on a turnover between the circles. That Toffoli could do it with a rocket backhander means the Kings have found a potential game-changing scorer.