Believe it or not, there was actually a point during Tuesday night’s game where the outcome could have gone either way. Granted, it was very brief but there was a time when the Hawks could’ve grabbed a stranglehold on the game. Did you forget already?
After Tomas Kopecky tied the game at 1 at the end of the first period, the Hawks were recipients of back-to-back power plays within a three minute span. What resulted was more sustained pressure from the Nashville side as Dustin Byfuglien continuously coughed up the puck and the Hawks couldn’t establish the offensive zone to save their collective lives. From there, it was all Nashville the rest of the way in and save for the final five minutes of the game, the Hawks didn’t mount much of a push back.
When Nashville killed off the final penalty, all it took was Brent Seabrook getting caught a bit too low and Kris Versteeg not covering for his pinching teammate enough to seal the deal. Steve Sullivan led a 2-on-1 the other way and fed a wide open David Legwand to give the Predators a lead they’d never lose.
The Predators followed the goal up six minutes later when a bouncing puck just outside the Hawks zone finally worked its way deep. J.P. Dumont found Shea Weber and his laser beam deflected off Marian Hossa’s stick and through Antti Niemi.
The Hawks had nothing to answer for it. And it’s not like Nashville played some impeccable defensive game. Quite the contrary, the Predators opened up their game as they opened up their lead and still the Hawks could do nothing. Any shot on Pekka Rinne was usually one and done as the shots came from the outside with no one near the net.
A Martin Erat penalty shot came courtesy of a confused Dustin Byfuglien who went from playing defense to playing forward and then back to defense in a span of 10 minutes. As if Erat was going to miss there. The good news was that it killed whatever little suspense remained in the game.
—Anyone who criticized people for looking forward to the return of Brian Campbell should be forced to watch this game on repeat in a locked room for 36 hours. Jesse Rogers was trying to calm the masses yesterday by saying Brian Campbell won’t be this great defensive savior when he returns. Of course, what he fails to mention is how the return of Campbell will, at the least, bring some stability to the defensive unit and more importantly get Byfuglien the hell out of there. Without him, the Hawks run three defensemen deep and either pray for Niemi to bail everyone else out or for the puck to hit Brent Sopel. It’s working wonders so far.
–Once again, Pekka Rinne did nothing that frightened me. Kris Versteeg missed the net on a breakaway early in the first and couldn’t capitalize on a Rinne miscue behind his net. John Madden continued to frustrate the ever-loving piss out of me when he couldn’t bang in another Rinne fumble. In my eyes, Rinne made two nice saves: the post-to- post on Toews in the first and the glove save on Kopecky at the end. If the Hawks could just start capitalizing on their few glorious chances, the legend of Rinne will be quickly doused.
–Shea Weber completely shut down his side of the ice tonight. The same couldn’t be said for Dan Hamhuis who was awful. The Hawks had their chances against him and just couldn’t get it done. This needs to change. And probably, pretty quickly.
–I would anticipate a shake-up of some proportion from Joel Quenneville. My guess is Adam Burish will suit up for Game 4. Not like that will have a huge impact. If the final period was any indicator, it also appears as though the leash for Dave Bolland has stretched as far as it will go. Patrick Sharp was moved up to center in the third period while Bolland centered a line of Andrew Ladd and a crappy rotating winger.
–Let me get this straight, Troy Brouwer goes from top-6 forward and 20-goal scorer to a guy who can’t even grab a couple of shifts in a playoff blowout. How or why the coaching staff has completely biffed him out of the lineup is beyond me. Maybe there’s a new rumor out there about how Joel Quenneville walked in on him boning his dog which explains the lack of ice time. Quick, someone e-mail Jesse Rogers and find out!
–John Madden has already played his way off the Hawks for next year and Andrew Ladd is slowly starting to join him. In a tight-checking series with the ability for the grinders to shine, Ladd has done absolutely nothing while playing with the most talented players on the team. Maybe there’s a columnist out there who still wants to call him the MVP of the team.
–This was only the second game all year the Blackhawks lost when Tomas Kopecky registered a point. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.