I’ve been quoting Rounders a ridiculous amount lately, and I finally got the chance to watch it tonight. As I recited the movie, I figured I might as well relate those quotes to the Blackhawks upcoming playoff series in some way. Why? Because I can.
You may remember my recap of the Blackhawks’ off-season drama, which I related to Seinfeld. So here’s a short recap of all six Blackhawks-Predators games from this past season, with a hint of Mike McD and Worm.
At Nashville, October 15: Blackhawks 3, Predators 1
“I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I’m really thinking about is Vegas and the fucking Mirage.”
After a scoreless first period in which they seemed to play opossum against the Nashville trap, the Blackhawks pounced on the Predators in the second period. Dustin Byfuglien and Tomas Kopecky scored within 28 seconds of each other for a 2-0 lead.
Marin Erat scored — shocking, absolutely shocking — to make it 2-1, but Duncan Keith added a goal in the third period to account for the final margin.
Cristobal Huet made only 12 saves as Nashville failed to put much pressure on the net.
At Chicago, October 24: Blackhawks 2, Predators 0
“I’ve often seen these people, these squares at the table, short stack and long odds against them. All their outs gone. One last card in the deck that can help them. I used to wonder how they could let themselves get into such bad shape, and how the hell they thought they could turn it around.”
Looking back on this game, it’s hard to believe Huet has become the most hated man in Chicago in such a short period of time. Granted, he never really had the fans’ full support at any point this season. But after this game, it started to seem like the fans were starting to believe in him a bit more after a couple of bad outings.
Huet made 27 saves and earned his first shutout of the season, stopping numerous Predators opportunities around the net and looking like the goalie everyone in Chicago hoped he would be.
“I think it was good for me to regroup myself a little bit,” Huet said after the game. “I think I was more aggressive, more desperate. I saw the puck pretty well. I have to keep doing that the rest of the season.”
Well you didn’t, buddy. Now you’ll be watching the playoffs from the bench. Hard to believe almost, because this wasn’t his only solid performance of the season.
At Nashville, October 29: Predators 2, Blackhawks 0
“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
The Blackhawks were never in this game despite dominating the first two meetings of the season. I remember waiting and waiting for the ‘Hawks to emerge with a goal or two because I felt there was no way Nashville could control them as much as they were.
Well, I waited until the final horn and you know what happened? Bubkus. Joel Ward’s power-play goal in the second period turned out to be the only true goal of the game (Nashville scored an empty-net goal with four seconds left).
This game is also the reason I’m afraid of falling sleep during the playoff series.
At Chicago, December 4: Predators 4, Blackhawks 1
“Why do you think your moves are so grand and noble and I’m always the idiot piece of shit?”
At one point, the ‘Hawks seemed to be running away with the Central Division. Nashville couldn’t really compete with the Blackhawks, could they? Christ, it’s effing Nashville! Elvis and country music and all that shit — not hockey!
Jonathan Toews scored a highlight-reel goal in the first period by stick-handling his way through the Preds defense and then slipping it past Dan Ellis. And that was it. The Preds scored four unanswered goals to end the Blackhawks’ eight-game winning streak at the UC and pulled to within three points of the division lead.
While the ‘Hawks were celebrating the long-term signings of Toews, Keith and Patrick Kane the day before, the Preds were busy winning 13 of 18 and earning 27 points in a relatively short period of time.
At Nashville, December 26: Blackhawks 4, Predators 1
“You know what cheers me up? Rolled up aces over kings. Check-raising stupid tourists and taking huge pots off of them. Playing all-night, high-limit Hold’em at the Taj, where the sand turns to gold. Stacks and towers of checks I can’t even see over.”
QStache called this the “perfect” game — a hell of a change from the previous two shit shows against the Preds.
Kane, Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp all scored in the victory to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 edge in the season series and, at the time, the lead in the Western Conference standings.
At Chicago, December 27: Blackhawks 5, Predators 4
“It hurts, doesn’t it? Your hopes dashed, your dreams down the toilet. And your fate is sitting right besides you.”
This one had to sting for the Preds. They went into the third leading 2-1, then trailed 4-2, then came up with two quick goals to tie the game 4-4. When it seemed like the game was destined for overtime, Kaner scored with 43 seconds left to give the ‘Hawks the win and an eight-point division lead.
The Predators must have been elated to be done with the ‘Hawks during the regular season. Now, Nashville’s playoff fate rests in having to beat the Blackhawks in a seven-game series.