It’s three down and one to go for the Chicago Blackhawks in their playoff series against the Nashville Predators. But that last win is always the most difficult one to obtain, as the trailing team will fight with everything it has to add another game to its season.
Under coach Joel Quenneville, the ’Hawks are very successful when they have the chance to close out a playoff series. In 16 postseason series under Quenneville, the ’Hawks have closed out an opponent with their first possible opportunity 11 times, including in six of their last seven series.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the Preds will roll over and die tonight at Bridgestone Arena, as coach Peter Laviolette has already said. And while the ’Hawks have up to three chances to earn a single victory, it is crucial they close out the Preds in their first attempt.
Here are three reasons why:
Da Windy City
Nashville can only get better. Although the ’Hawks are up 3-1 in this series, a couple different bounces could have the Preds up by the same margin. The series has been that close (multiple games going to multiple overtimes is also a good indicator). Let’s just look at Tuesday’s 3-2 triple-overtime victory for the ’Hawks. The Preds played 101 minutes essentially even with the ’Hawks, who are basically at full strength. And they did so without their best defenseman in Shea Weber and their best two-way center in Mike Fisher. Laviolette is likely letting the Preds know they’re just a bounce or two away from having a toe in the second round. They should come out with confidence in Game 5. If the ’Hawks can’t close the Preds out, that confidence will grow.