It’s hard to win when you can’t stay out of the box.
That was the story of the night for the Chicago Blackhawks. In the first period, the Hawks spent the final 7 minutes trying to kill off penalties, including a 5-on-3. Cristobal Huet was the best penalty killer and the score remained 0-0 after the first 20 minutes.
The second period was actually the Hawks best chance to get the go-ahead goal. Unfortunatley, it took two horrendous power plays by them for the coaching staff to mercifully make an adjustment.
During the aforementiong power plays, the Hawks went with Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Tomas Kopecky up front with Dave Bolland and Duncan Keith on the point. Not surprisingly, the puck spent zero time in the Predators zone.
They finally decided that Bolland wasn’t a good fit and went with Brian Campbell and Cam Barker at the point. What resulted was some excellent pressure including their best chance when Kane teed up a shot from the top of the circles and put the puck right on Sharp’s stick with a wide open net staring back at him. Sharp put the tip wide.
Shortly after this sequence, Barker took a bad penalty during Nashville’s only sustained pressure of the period. Subsequently, the Predators didn’t disappoint. Joel Ward tipped home a Francois Bouillion centering pass and the Predators had the only goal they’d need.
Then in the final 6 minutes with the Hawks desperate for the equalizer, Tomas Kopecky took a bad offensive zone penalty. As soon as the Hawks killed that off, Brent Sopel went away for two minutes for hooking. When the Hawks successfully killed that penalty off, there was just under 2 minutes left to play.
Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist was called for goaltender interference and the Hawks had a 6-on-4. There were a couple close calls but Pekka Rinne stood tall and their best shot at the end may have been foiled when Dave Scatchard slashed Patrick Kane’s right hand just as Kane was getting ready to feed a wide open Patrick Sharp.
The Predators picked up the loose puck and iced the win giving them their third win in four games, and once again proving they refuse to just go away and be bad.
–Patrick Kane was, by far, the best player on the ice. Without exaggerating, he probably could have had 4 assists if his teammates finished the excellent scoring chances he set up.
–Kane and Patrick Sharp were finally re-united on a line towards the end of the second period. Let’s hope it stays that way for a little bit.
–For a coach like Joel Quenneville who will shake up lines at the slightest hint of staleness, he really is a stubborn S.O.B. with a forward playing the point on the power play. Whether it’s Dave Bolland or Patrick Sharp, his infatuation with this strategy is starting to get creepy. Not to mention, it’s kinda, sorta destroying the Hawks power play. They clearly have the personnel to succeed with the man advantage after last year’s dominance. It would be nice if their coaching staff would put them in the best position to succeed.
While it was nice to see them finally shake up the power play unit in the second period with good results, they went right back to it at the end of the game by putting Dustin Byfuglien on one point and Duncan Keith at the other. Meanwhile, their three best powerplay defensemen (all with just as good shots and better hands than the other two) sat on the bench. Maybe that’s why it was so frustrating when Keith was unable to corral a wide open puck and forced the Hawks to regroup with only 30 seconds remaining.
–I suppose Keith could get the benefit of the doubt at the end of the game because the ice at the Sommett Center was a joke. The puck was bouncing around like a racquet ball and for a team like the Hawks who controlled the puck for probably 65% of the time, it was maddening.
–And don’t forget kids, just keep jamming it towards the net and wait for someone to come on you.