Apr 19, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalieScott Darling
(33) and his teammates after the Hawks win game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators 4-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
I predicted that the Chicago Blackhawks would win Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games. I’m sticking to my prediction, which means we are half way through this series against the Nashville Predators, with three games in the books. Game 1 was a double overtime thriller that saw the Hawks winning 4-3. Game 2 turned out to be a third period drubbing, with the Nashville Predators coming out on top by a score of 6-2. Game 3 saw the Blackhawks dominate and win by a score of 4-2. Here are 5 reasons why the Blackhawks are winning the series 2-1, and why they will eventually win in 6 games.
5. Andrew Desjardins. Who would have thought this guy could be a difference maker? He played well for the last couple of regular season games, but was benched at the beginning of the playoffs in favor of Joakim Nordstrom who had just come back from an injury. Nordstrom is a physical player, and he is a key component on the penalty kill, but he doesn’t offer much offensively.
Desjardins came in for Game 3 of the playoffs, and he made the most of his opportunity. He scored the first goal in the first period to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. Playing on the fourth line, he drove to the net, took a shot that was blocked, but got his own rebound for the score. In 11:47 minutes of ice time, Desjardins had this one goal and 4 shots on goal. He had lots of energy, and seemed to provide a spark for the team. I would have to argue for Desjardins versus Nordstrom going forward.
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4. Defense stepping up and playing smart. In Game 1, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson took advantage of a Predators broken stick. With no hesitation, he jumped into the play and was able to score. It was a turning point of sorts, as the Hawks were down 0-3 at the time and this gave them hope to claw back into the game.
In the second overtime of Game 1, it was defenseman Duncan Keith who came up with the big goal to break the 3-3 tie and win the game.
In Game 3, defenseman Brent Seabrook tallied the final score of the game to give the Hawks a comfortable 4-2 cushion.
Its plays like these, where the defense steps in to create offense that goes a long way towards racking up wins. Plus, the defensemen play a very important role in the Blackhawks transition game. It’s their quick and precise passing that leads to good entries and helps drive possession.
3. Sharpie. Patrick Sharp is a veteran player that knows how to play under pressure. Although he didn’t rack up the points during the regular season, he has come to play in the post season. Sharp has accumulated 2 goals and 13 shots on goal so far in this series.
In these first three games, Sharp has played mostly on the third line. I would argue that he should be on the first or second line. But with the depth of the Blackhawks, Sharp presents a weapon on the third line that the Nashville Predators need to keep an eye on.
In Game 2, Sharp tied the game at 1-1 after a great shift. He was pressuring at the net, but had to dump it around to Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson held the puck while Sharp wrestled his way back to the front of the net. Sharp then took Hammer’s pass to him and knocked it in for the score. His hard work paid off on that shift, and it is a good representation of how well he has been playing.
Sharpie is also a threat on the power play. He usually plays the point, and takes a lot of great quality shots from there. But in Game 1, Sharp was by the net, and he took a great pass from Patrick Kane through the center of the ice to swipe it in for a PP goal.