So Game 2 didn’t quite end the way we had hoped. Unlike the headlines of many stories on the game would have you believe, the Chicago Blackhawks were not routed or blown out by the Nashville Predators. A three-minute lapse turned the game from a one-goal nailbiter with less than 10 minutes remaining into an obvious defeat.
Problem solved, right? Hardly. Despite what seemingly half the ’Hawks fanbase thinks, Crawford’s existence on the ice was not the sole reason Chicago lost Game 2 and needed double overtime to snatch Game 1 from the jaws of defeat.
Here are some other things the ’Hawks need to consider ahead of today’s afternoon affair:
Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Insert Antoine Vermette. Before Game 2, a key need for the ’Hawks was improvement in faceoffs. They achieved that, winning 51 percent of their draws Friday. While Vermette would conceivably take that number up a few more ticks, slotting Vermette in can do more than boost faceoff digits. Does everyone remember when Peter Regin played a couple games for the ’Hawks in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs? He was quick to pucks, drove to the net and was highly engaged in play. He wanted to make things happen to earn a permanent place in the lineup (although he didn’t, he certainly tried). Who’s to say Vermette won’t be motivated after being a healthy scratch for a pair of playoff games after being brought in to boost the team’s playoff run? His insertion would also permit the ’Hawks to try some different line combinations and potentially spark an offense that’s a few bounces from breaking out. The only caveat: He needs to be at center. Sorry, Andrew Shaw, but you’d make a more effective wing than Vermette.