Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators Take Tied Series to Windy City

By Brian Kinkade
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Dec 29, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) checks Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones (3) during the third period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not get too far into the gory details of the Chicago Blackhawks brutal Game Two defeat at the hands of the Nashville Predators.  Actually, we should try to forget Game Two altogether.  The point is, the Hawks neutralized Nashville’s home ice advantage by splitting the first two games of the series which took place in the Music City.  Now, the next two games are set to be played in Chicago.

With the series tied at 1-1, the whole thing is ripe for the taking as long as the Hawks take care of business.

Puck drop is set for 2:00 PM Central Time.  Today’s game can be seen on NBC and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Predators series so far.

[table id=152 /]

Right off the bat, the Hawks’ are giving up too many goals.  This is a bit of an illusion though, as that 4.50 Goals Against is highly inflated thanks to that nightmare of a 3rd period in Game Two(I know I said to forget Game Two and this isn’t helping).

Still though, in both games so far, the Hawks are givng up way too many golden scoring chances and leaving their goalies out to dry.  This isn’t playoff hockey and this carelessness should have stopped before Game One, but no such luck.  Fix it now.

Typically with the Hawks defense, scoring 3 goals per game would be plenty to secure a win, especially in the playoffs.  That hasn’t been the case thus far.  Yes, I realize it’s only been two game, but that’s enough of a sample size to know what needs to be worked on.

The Power Play was great in Game One and absolute garbage in Game Two.  This inconsistency is the most consistent thing about the Hawks throughout the regular season and playoffs, so whatever.

The inconsistency on the Power Play is acceptable when the Penalty Kill is utterly dominant, which is often times the case with the Hawks, but 80% isn’t quite cutting it.  The Hawks could live with an 80% Penalty Kill percentage as long as their Power Play was far more reliable.

Faceoffs have been absolute garbage so far.  During the regular season, the Hawks were a top-5 team at taking draws.  What happened?  Antoine Vermette and his faceoff skills have been in the press box the entire series.  Jonathan Toews has won an uncharacteristically low 47.2% of his draws, Marcus Kruger is also winning fewer draws than expected and Andrew Shaw continues to lineup at center for some strange reason.

The dismal faceoff percentage affects the Hawks’ puck-possession game, which also affects their scoring chances and opportunities.  The way the Hawks are built, if their SAT Percentage is below 50%, they are probably going to be in significant trouble.  The Hawks are a possession team and when they aren’t possessing the puck, it’s a recipe for losing hockey games.

Win more faceoffs!

The Predators have obviously been the better team this series.  They are unlucky to be tied in the series and the Hawks are lucky to be tied.  Hockey is a weird sport and luck is part of the game.  Things aren’t looking up for the Preds as they head to Chicago for the next two games and will be without their star defenseman and captain, Shea Weberfor at least the next two games.

However, Weber missed the 3rd period of Game Two.  The same 3rd period that Nashville scored 4 goals to turn the close game into an embarrassing blowout for the Hawks.  Craig Smith found the back of the net twice and also added an assist in Game Two.  It will be interesting to see how underrated defenseman, Roman Josi handles life without Weber, his defensive partner.

Colin Wilson is a known Hawk killer and he has lived up to that during this series so far.  Wilson already has 3 goals in the first 2 games of the series.  Filip Forsberg is electric and has made himself very noticeable every time he’s been on the ice.  He has 2 points(1 goal, 1 assist) so far in the series.

Starting in net for the Preds will be Pekka Rinne once again.  Rinne has gotten the job done, aside from some not-so-great rebounds, but he has overall done an okay job with his .912 Save Percentage in the series.

Patrick Kane appears to have shaken off the rust.  With his goal in Game Two, Kane now has 3 points in the series.  Michal Rozsival has struggled mightily and has handcuffed Duncan Keith’s ability to be Duncan Keith.  This has affected the Hawks possession game and has been a big catalyst in the costly defensive breakdowns.  Something has to change.

Brad Richards has yet to record a point but has been winning most of his faceoffs.  This man is due.  Although it’s only been two games, Niklas Hjalmarsson has been a point per game player thus far.  He has also been one of the few defensive bright spots for the Hawks so far.

Now for the big story, Scott Darling will be replacing Corey Crawford in net for the Hawks.  Darling made 42 saves in relief of Crawford in Game One

Yeah, I said to forget Game Two and I completely failed to do so myself.  Perhaps, we should all remember Game Two.  Game Two should be plenty to kick the Hawks in the a$$ to get them in gear.  If the Hawks play the way they are supposed to, they should win.  Especially with the next two games being at home.

If things happen they way they should happen, the Hawks should eventually be up 3-1 in the series.  Hockey is a weird sport and the Predators are a very good team.

Go Hawks!

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