The Blackhawks set the tone early with two strikes from their captain. When defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson fired a puck in from the point in the first period, Jonathan Toews tapped in the rebound for an early Chicago lead. Toews struck again a few minutes later on the power play with a floating shot from the point. Chicago entered the first intermission with the lead and all of the momentum.
They didn't let it go to waste. Just a few minutes into the second frame, Patrick Kane made a brilliant pass to a wide-open Brandon Saad to extend the Blackhawks' lead to three. As Anaheim's porous defense continued to collapse, breakaways for Chicago became more common. Marian Hossa appeared to score on one of those, but the officials went to video review to confirm he didn't kick the puck in. Turns out, this was a night where luck belonged to Chicago, and the goal counted for a 4-0 Blackhawks lead.
Anaheim finally got on the board before the second intermission when center Ryan Kesler released a laser of a shot over Corey Crawford's shoulder to make the score 4-1. Corey Perry made Blackhawks fans nervous with a goal later in the period, but a penalty to Cam Fowler and the ensuing goal from Brent Seabrook gave Chicago another three-goal lead. Anaheim scored one last time, but it was too little, too late.
3 things we learned
1. Chicago gets a chance to cement its dynasty
The Blackhawks are headed to their third Stanley Cup Final in the last six years. In that span, their core of Toews, Kane, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Seabrook and Hjalmarsson has remained consistent. In the salary-cap era, that is beyond impressive and something you can't imagine continuing for much longer. A third Cup would likely seal Chicago's legacy as the NHL dynasty of the 2010s.
2. Anaheim's defensive performance was woeful
At one brief point in the second period, Blackhawks were divebombing the Ducks' net with breakaways every two minutes. Anaheim looked as dysfunctional, slow and unprepared in their own end as they have all playoffs. The breakdown was completely unexpected from a team of their caliber, and will likely haunt them through the offseason.
3. The Blackhawks can play a mean game of keep-away
It was quickly apparent that Chicago's crisp, accurate passing and decision-making with the puck would cause problems for Anaheim. The Ducks rely on physically removing players and plays from the puck, and you can't hit what you can't catch up to. So while Anaheim looked good on paper, they weren't exactly able to do anything productive with it. Considering Tampa Bay plays a similar style of hockey at times, the final should be quite entertaining.