Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Will Give Eliminating Nashville Predators Another Shot

By Brian Kinkade
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Apr 21, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and Nashville Predators left wing Viktor Stalberg (25) fight for the puck during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Sadly, the Chicago Blackhawks were not able to take care of business in Nashville but they still have a chance to advance past the Nashville Predators and have a bit of a rest before the 2nd round of the playoffs.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though.  It’s no longer ridiculous to imagine the Predators coming back in this series.  However, playing at home should give the Hawks a big boost.

Puck drop for tonight’s Game Six between the Hawks and Preds is set for 7:00 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on NBC and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s how the Hawks and Preds have fared statistically so far in this series.

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When looking at these numbers, it’s hard to believe that the Hawks are the ones leading the series.  Yes, the goals for/goals against numbers might be inflated a bit thanks to the Hawks’ 3rd period meltdowns in Games Two and Five.

Since that has happened twice, it’s hard to really discount either of them.  However, it’s hard to imagine that happening at the United Center.

Nashville has absolutely owned the Special Teams this series.  Moving on.

The faceoff numbers are close, but they slightly favor the Predators when they should favor the Hawks when considering how each team fared at faceoffs during the regular season.  The Hawks have improved in this area, but the more they possess the puck, the better.

The one area the Hawks have the advantage is in shot attempts/overall puck possession.  This is probably the most important category and although it is a slight advantage it is probably a big reason why the Hawks are ahead in the series.

The Predators are likely excited about how rookie/Calder Trophy snub Filip Forsberg has handled his first playoff series.  There were some questions about how the 20-year old would handle his first Stanley Cup Playoff series, but his Game Five hat-trick should say it all.

Nashville got the bad news of learning that Shea Weber will be out for the rest of the series.  That hurts the Preds badly, but they might have more blueline depth than any other team in the NHL.  Seth Jones has filled in remarkably for the injured Weber.

Colin Wilson has absolutely bullied the Hawks this series.  He has 5 goals(4 on the Power Play) in 5 games this series.

Starting in net for the Preds will be Pekka Rinne.  After a shaky start to the series, Rinne has seemingly found his groove and has made some great saves in the last two games.  Rinne has improved his formerly “meh” Save Percentage to a respectable .915.

The big boost for the Hawks playing at home is the ability for Coach Q to have the last change and more control of the matchups on the ice.  Even when he’s had that, the games have been insanely close.  Hopefully, Q can get the likes of

Even when he’s had that, the games have been insanely close.  Hopefully, Q can get the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews(who each have 5 points this series) on the ice against lines that they can do some damage against.

Toews’ line which also features Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad will likely be tasked with shutting down Nashville’s top-line.  This would leave scoring up to Kane’s line, which sees Kris Versteeg returning to it alongside center Brad Richards.  When Bryan Bickell was on this line, he was starting to look like the playoff Bryan Bickell.  We’ll see how long it takes for him to return to that spot.

Bickell will skate on Antoine Vermette’s line with Patrick Sharp which should be able to do some big damage also.  In Game Three(the first home game of the series for the Hawks), the 4th line did a lot of good things on the ice and even produced points.  This is especially true for Andrew Desjardins.  

It’s difficult to understand how there isn’t a place for Teuvo Teravainen in this lineup, but here we are.  If Versteeg continues to struggle or Andrew Shaw continues to take ill-timed penalties, Coach Q will have to start Teuvo.

However, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because if it does, that would mean Nashville would have beaten the Hawks in tonight’s Game Six.  If that were to happen, Game Seven would be in Nashville and would likely mean the Hawks would be on their way to the golf courses much earlier than expected.

Starting in net for the Hawks will once again be Scott Darling.  Darling has had a wonderful series aside from a rough 3rd period of Game Six.  In Game Six he gave up 4 goals on 28 shots.  He wasn’t heavily tested in that game and it makes one wonder if the going several shifts without facing heavy chances gets him out of his groove.  This has likely been addressed, so look for Darling to rebound tonight.

Make no mistake, this is a must-win game for both teams.  Obviously, it is for the Predators who are facing elimination.  It is also a must-win for the Hawks too.  If the Hawks lose tonight, that would mean the Preds have won two in a row, one being in Chicago and have tied the series with the deciding game to be played in Nashville.  This would more than likely spell doom for the Hawks.

If the Hawks lose tonight, that would mean the Preds have won two in a row, one being in Chicago and have tied the series with the deciding game to be played in Nashville.  This would more than likely spell doom for the Hawks.

Just win this and let’s advance.

Go Hawks!

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