Chicago Blackhawks Set for Game 2 with Nashville Predators Before Returning Home

By Brian Kinkade

Apr 15, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Filip Forsberg (9) skates with the puck as Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) and right winger Marian Hossa (81) chase during the first period in game one of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

They say as long as you can split the road games in a playoff series, then you’ve done your job.  So far, so good for the Chicago Blackhawks then.  While they’ve neutralized the Nashville Predators’ home ice advantage, completely stealing it and making it into their own advantage would truly be impressive for the Hawks.

With the Hawks’ 4-3 double overtime victory in Game One, the Hawks hold a 1-0 series lead.  Game Two will also be in Nashville and puck drop is set for 8:30 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a look at the numbers from Game One.

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I probably could have used the counting stats, but I rarely get the opportunity to type in a Hawks’ Power Play Percentage above 20%, so I couldn’t resist the 33.3% thing.  The Hawks were 2 for 6 on the Power Play in Game One.  If they can keep up even some of the Power Play’s productivity, they should be in good shape.

What really pops out is the Faceoff Percentages.  Just awful for the Hawks.  Andrew Shaw won 38.9% of his draws, Marcus Kruger uncharacteristically only won 36.8% of his draws and the most surprising of all Jonathan Toews won only 33.3% of his draws.  This is troubling but fixable.  (cough)Antoine Vermette(cough).

Brad Richards was the only Hawks’ center above water in faceoff percentage with a very nice 55.6%.

In more encouraging news, the Hawks had 49.56% of all the shot attempts from Game One.  That is quite remarkable considering how putrid they were in the faceoff circle.  This would skyrocket if they could win a respectable amount of draws and along with it, their chances of winning would also skyrocket.

The Predators have to be feeling lots of pressure and lots of disappointment.  In their eyes, they have to win Game 2.  If they don’t, they will have completely squandered their home ice advantage, they will have fallen down 2-0 in the series just as it’s about to head back to Chicago and it would be absolutely humiliating after all of the off-ice shenanigans from their marketing department.

It remains to be seen if Mike Fisher will be able to play tonight.  That would be a significant loss to the Predator’s depth and forward defense.  He only played in the 1st period in Game One and it was after he left when the Hawks had their fantastic 2nd period.  Matt Cullen had an impressive Game One.  He won over 70% of his faceoffs, recorded an assist and had 4 shots-on-goal.

The focus must still remain on shutting down Filip Forsberg, Shea Weberand Roman Josi.  Forsberg looked electric and can’t be taken lightly.  Weber and Josi were mostly quiet but still played solid defensively.  You’ll take that any day.  Seth Jones is also very dangerous on the blueline.  It’s still a pick your poison situation with Nashville’s defense.

Pekka Rinne didn’t look fantastic in net but he still made 42 saves, so that’s something.

A disgusting 1st period, a fantastic 2nd period and a so-so rest of the game but a series lead nonetheless for the Hawks.  Look for more out of Patrick Kane in Game Two.  Not that he was lousy in Game One, with his assists and his powering of the Power Play.  He himself admitted to a little rust, but nothing like a 5-period playoff game to shake that off.

Despite Jonathan Toews’ dismal performance in the faceoff dot, he still put up 3 points(1 goal, 2 assists).  Teuvo Teravainen looked a little gun-shy in Game One but he still recorded an assist.  Look for more out of him as the series goes on.

Corey Crawford will be getting the start tonight.  This is his team and the Hawks have wisely decided to dance with with brought them this far.

The pressure is on the Predators and the Hawks are due for a better performance.  Hockey is weird though and playoff hockey is even weirder.

Go Hawks!