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Plus, if either Fisher or Weber (or both) comes back for Game 5, Nashville will receive a big boost. And it will make the Preds even more dangerous the longer they’re at anything resembling full strength. Fisher would conceivably take on Jonathan Toews and would likely have more success than either Mike Ribeiro or Matt Cullen in limiting Toews’ production (Toews won 21 draws Tuesday, seven more than anyone else from either team). Weber plays heavy minutes against the opposition’s top forwards and makes Roman Josi, and anyone else he’s on the ice with, much better. Stomping out the Preds before they can get healthier and more comfortable is a critical goal for the ’Hawks tonight.
Scott Darling isn’t immortal. The backup has been really good in goal these playoffs, there’s no doubting that. While his most impressive saves remain in Game 1, he’s faced a ton of rubber (131 shots in 220 minutes) and has stopped almost all of it (.969 save percentage). A few things about this: Hockey can be a fickle game, and Darling’s sample size in net is too small to draw firm conclusions about him. Darling played in 14 regular-season games for the ’Hawks and won nine of them with a solid .936 save percentage. But that’s 33 points lower than what he’s sporting in the playoffs, and the ’Hawks have needed pretty much every bit of the 33-point increase.
So, what if Darling’s save percentage levels out in Game 5 and the ’Hawks drop their first attempt at closing out the Preds? Then the ’Hawks have a rookie goaltender who may react poorly to losing his first playoff game (they could always go back to Corey Crawford if this is really an issue) while their opponents have even more confidence after finally defeating Darling. All of this can be kept in the “what if?” drawer if the ’Hawks win Game 5 tonight.