With Caggiula back, the Blackhawks hope to be more physical in Game 3 vs Oilers

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EDMONTON, ALBERTA – AUGUST 03: Andreas Athanasiou #28 of the Edmonton Oilers is upended by Adam Boqvist #27 an Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Two of the Western Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 03, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

EDMONTON – As someone who has suffered from concussions during his NHL career, including this season, Drake Caggiula is completely on the side of the league when it comes to preventing hits to the head.

Even if it’s one that they say he committed in Game 1 that led him to taking a seat in Game 2.

“I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I also respect the decision,” said Caggiula of his hit on Tyler Ennis that got him a one-game ban. “I total respect the fact that we want to protect player’s heads and safety. So, like I said, I’ve got no issue with that, a consistency thing is what we’re all looking for.

“As players, we just want to make sure we know what the standard is. So I know what the standard is now, and I like I said, I have no issue with it.”

Now he can get back to work for the Blackhawks, who missed his physical presence during a rough night in Game 2 on Monday. A more aggressive Oilers team was able to capitalize on Blackhawks’ mistakes and pulled out a 6-3 win to even the series at one.

Game 3 is Wednesday night, with the winner moving just a game away from the traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs. The high-scoring preliminary round series has seen both the good and the bad from the 12th-seeded Blackhawks, but there is something they can fix.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton wants his group to be more physical in response to the Oilers, who he believes have turned up their aggression in the first two games.

“We’ve got to be aware of that, and also we have to take our chances to be physical when we can,” said Colliton, who sees the physical play in all of Edmonton’s lines in the first two games. “It can be as simple as forcing their defenseman and move the puck a little bit quicker, and we can force turnovers and create offense out of that.

“It’s good to have (Caggiula) back in. It’s important that he brings that different element to our team. That energy, and all it can take is one shift to turn that momentum.”

Changing their aggression early would be a good place to start. Connor McDavid has given Edmonton the lead in each of the last two games, scoring three first period goals in the series.

“He’s a good player, so he’s going to get his chances. It’s just doing our best to control possession when those guys are out there,” said Colliton of the Oilers’ early goals. “At the same time I think we’ve responded pretty well to the adversity both games as far as battling back, even on Monday, when we weren’t happy with how we played, we still found a way to tie it up.”

If Caggiula and the Blackhawks can add a little more physical play to that resolve, perhaps the team will be a step closer to the next round of the NHL Tournament.

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