Game Three: Predators 4, Blackhawks 1

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. 

Quickies 

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.

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40 Responses to Game Three: Predators 4, Blackhawks 1

  1. Mick Durand says:

    I used to laugh at people carrying signs that said “the end is near” I don’t laugh anymore.

  2. Muhr says:

    I really wish I could panic after what I saw. But I skipped panic and went to resignation.

    Can Huet play D?

  3. Lee says:

    Q say’s they wern’t ready. Is he F—k–g kidding. If they wern’t ready, then whose fault was that? I am so disgusted with last night I actually have nothing more to say except Trotz is making Q look like a midget coach

  4. M says:

    Lee,

    As a midget coach I resent that remark.

  5. Lou says:

    Some Herb Brooks quote about Monkies and Footballs comes to mind.

    Maybe it is just me but good things tend to happen on the PP when you shoot the puck at the net. Regardless of who is or isn’t there to move the puck, good things happen when you shoot the puck at the net.

    Q is absolutely being outcoached by Trotz. And there is a reason Q is sub .500 in the playoffs and a reason why he was let go from STL and COL. Maybe this is a big piece. This team has talent and good coaches change the game strategy not just pulling the next line out of duck-duck-goose. Q better bring his A game as well.

    GUT CHECK TIME AND MUST WIN.

  6. Scott says:

    A bad game for sure. But lets not worry. The better team will win the series. We all believe that the hawks are and will. Of the next 4 games, we win 3. no biggie.

  7. Lee says:

    I have now read all of the morning papers and all of the morning blogs and they all say the say thing. The Hawks were soft last night and got totally out hit. Ok, lets forget all of my posts about goons but they sure as hell need some more physical players to protect,as I have said all year, their smaller and more skilled players. The way to beat the Hawks is get physical with them and last night was a perfect example of that. Why Q has left Burish and Boynton out of his lineup is beyond me. Someone has to step up and Burish for sure could be one of those that will. Ok John your shot now but I bet Dave Morris agrees with me

  8. illinikc33 says:

    Jesus Lord in heaven. The way to beat the Hawks is to trap, not to get physical. How did physical work for Calgary and Vancouver last year? How did physical work for the Blues this year? Dear Christ. We’ve been out-hit the majority of the games this year. I’ll garner that we have a great record when being out-hit. I mean come on.

  9. John says:

    Don’t feed the beast illini.

  10. Lou says:

    You’re right Illini. The trap and our ability to change and adapt is a huge problem. Htting will help in the corners but changing the game up with the players available will have bigger impact.

  11. CT says:

    It wasn’t the lack of hitting, it was the lack of winning the board battles that killed this team. Even Toews couldn’t win the puck against the wall (something he usually excels at).

    I don’t think the issue for the Hawks is the trap. Nashville isn’t killing them with the trap, they’re forechecking with 3 guys. I fully expected them to lay back in the 3rd period and protect the lead, but they still opened the period with an aggressive forecheck and it seemed catch the Hawks off guard.

    Kopecky was pretty much the best forward out there last night, which isn’t a knock on Tomas (I thoguht he played well) but the rest of the guys. Kopecky’s got more goals in this series than Keith, Toews, Hossa, Sharp and Versteeg combined.

  12. Lee says:

    Illini and John playing physical is not just hitting. They lost every scrum for the puck and were just plain out muscled. You can talk about the trap all you want they just played soft last night and their bigger players stopped our smaller palyers and please stop bringing up Calagry and Vancouver because this is Nashville and it is 2010 and not 2009. You guys seem to be the only group that does not feel being out physical makes a difference

  13. Mick Durand says:

    The solution to the Hawks isn’t exclusively tied into a physical game. It’s not like Nashville intentionally played an agressive physical game and we couldn’t compete with their body on body approach. They played a physical game and we absolutely refused to check; with the exception of a few hits from Keith and Seabrook, we wore our cute and fluffy panties lastnight, and the Preds had their way with us, in every sense, once they realized that we left our balls in Chicago.

    That said, Trotz isn’t a better coach than Q, per se. He’s never brought this club past the first round, and he employs the most bland and boring brand of hockey I’ve ever watched in my life; and I’ve seen some undercard games in Montreal that would put Jacques Lemaire to sleep.

    The problem we had lastnight was that a) Trotz built a fortress on our blue line and around every offensive outlet in our zone. This put our D in a position where the couldn’t really move the pick, or exit the zone, considering the swarm of 3 blue sweaters that roamed our zone with sticks on the ice and checking in mind. Chip and chase would have helped somewhat, but Trotz plays such an intense trap that he basically has 7 men on the ice at any given time. You chip it in and new forwards come on to back-check the living he’ll out of the entering forwards.

    The swarm of Nashville skaters in all three zones could be negated or at least partially countered by dead serious body checks in the neutral zone, and very dirty man on man coverage in our zone. In other words, take the body and mirror their skating and you trap them as much as they trap you, only you put them in a position where they have to skate, and check them out of position, and maybe open up some time and space and create a few real chances and some end to end skating plays, which is something I still think we can actually achieve.

    It’s not over yet, but we’re watching the beginning of the end if they try to play their game tomorror, rather than just stooping to the level of Trotzie, who would make an excellent comic book villain, by the way.

  14. Otter says:

    Well said Mick. It really was like watching a game where the Preds had six guys on the ice to the Hawks five at all times. The Hawks had no space to do much of anything, the moment the puck found someone’s stick, someone in blue was all over him like white on rice (or brown on rice if your one of those Whole Paycheck people). A frustrating game to watch because the Hawks so poor last night—nothing to do with being soft. They just weren’t very good… beating up or hitting the Preds harder wouldn’t have changed anything. Other than Keith, Kopecky, and Hossa, I thought everyone on the Hawks played very poorly. And Byfuglien… he was J-Woww’s boob job bad last night.

    Anyway, the Hawks were really playing hockey last night. The entire game looked like a fire drill.

    The truth is, the Hawks were the better team in the first two games, but a weird bounce cost them in Game One. Game Three featured a few weird bounces in the first, but none of them went the Hawks way… and they couldn’t steal a game were they were totally out played.

  15. Otter says:

    Lee, were where the Hawks soft last night? Could you give some examples of where their “softness” cost them either goals or caused them to give up goals?

    In the first two games were the Hawks soft?

  16. Lee says:

    Also I know that the pacifists will be all over me here but I would have liked to see some real physically from the Hawks the last three minutes of the game. I would have had Eager and company out there commtting complete mayhem, less getting suspended, to let the Preds know the Hawks were still alive. Thats what the Hawks of the old, and I am really old, so I mean the old Hawks would have done. they would have unleashed the Reggie Flemings, the Magnussons, Secords and lastly Proberts. I also would be shocked if Boynton and Burish are not dressed Thursday and the experiment with Buff on defence is over

  17. Dave Morris says:

    Lee>actually I do agree with you…in part.

    This was an unacceptable display by the Hawks against a determined, focused Nashville squad who outhit, outshot, and out-competed them.

    Joel Ward and Steve Sullivan showed what hunger for a win is all about.

    Some people call the Preds ‘boring’…the only thing boring about the Predators is being beaten by them.

    Listening to Troy Murray on the WIND radiocast last night, the anger he expressed mirrored much of what is being expressed by fans. Some of his comments:

    “What kind of perfromance by the Blackhawks was THAT?”

    “I guarantee you there isn’t a tired guy in the Hawks locker room.”

    The bizarre inconsistencies of this year’s Blackhawk team are puzzling to say the least.

    You can call it an issue of mental/physical toughness, but there is an unpredictable, recurring lack of that ‘something’ that makes championship clubs.

    Not to mention a need for at least one veteran, physical d-man; a big center; and some forwards who drive the net. Oh, and another reliable goaltender.

    Fair to say StanBow has some roster cleaning, and shopping, to do this summer.

    That said, if the Hawks get their act together in Game Four…if.

  18. Mick Durand says:

    Lee, my old man is like you. He constantly complains that we need Buff or Eager to just go ape-sh*t and let the other team know we’re playing for keeps. That might have been the sort of move that would have propelled a team past an opponent that was more energized or just plain lucky on the puck, but starting a scrap or getting under a team’s skin who’s play is strategically and positionally superior to your game is like trying to use a Sham-Wow to put out a fire. It’s made in Germany, and you know the Germans always make good stuff, but fighting and adjusting to the trap of the century are two very different things.

    Don’t get me wrong here Lee. I played competitive hockey until my knee caved in on me in a car accident. Every chance I got I’d take the body and scrap with opposing teams. Nothing gave me pleasure like face-washing an opposing player and talking sh*t in a pile of really stupid humans. Do I wish fighting was a central part of the game at the NHL level still? You bet your ass I do. But it isn’t, and I’m over it, and I’ve moved on.

    General question: I’m watching all the series around the league unfold every night; is it me, or does our series vs. Snatchville not seem like a playoff series? It feels like an extended home and home. This is brutal.

  19. Lou says:

    Pacifist or anti-unidimensional-goon? – the $20,000 question. A pulse would have been a good thing. Hell a PP shot would have been nice too.

    Obvioulsy, the roster composition will indeed be different next season. If Iginla is truly on the market as speculated by some circles do we go get him???

  20. Paul says:

    Last night was MEN vs. cute little fluffy baby faced boys…period. Talent will never overcome a physical game if the team playing the physical game can remain consistent in their approach. They attacked in the offensive zone while we collapsed 5 men deep as all wanted to play goalie. They attacked up high in their defensive zone as our defensemen played hot potato with that little disc that should be heading for the net with regularity…and we couldnt even set up long enough to create a presence in the crease, with the exception of the Kopecky goal (how it should be done). To sum it up…Get your noses out of the air, drop the chin and take to them what you received last night…OH, and can the ENTIRE team stop trying to be Kane with that damn mouthpiece constantly being chewed upon?!?!? MAN UP!

  21. Otter says:

    What good would beating the crap out of the Preds after they made it 4-1 have done? Seriously? Would it made you sleep better at night Lee? Does it make the loss less bad? Having Eager deliver a cheap shot to Sullivan or Weber does what again?

    I watched the Hawks get physical with the Wings after they were down and out in a game in the 90s. And you know what? It didn’t make the Hawks any better the next day and the Wings still always won.

    The Hawks need to play hockey, they need to make good passes and they need to not play Byfuglien on the blue line. The Wings and Sharks both won last night to tie things up at 2-2, there’s no reason the Hawks can’t either.

  22. Lee says:

    Otter

    You and I will definetly agree to disagree on what they should have done. They should have made a statement even if it was with one minute to go and down by 3

  23. blackhawkbob says:

    Everybody play nice now.

    And, I agree that Q will shake something up, but I believe it will be Bickell who gets the nod over Burish.

    Also, remember what a bull Byfuglien was last playoffs. Maybe an answer is to move him up and cross your fingers with Boynton.

    That Bolland extension is looking worse by the day.

  24. John says:

    Yeah I meant to change my mind this morning but I wouldn’t be shocked to see both Bickell and Burish dress for Game 4. Sadly, it’s not really on the 4th line to get this thing turned around. There’s about 5 other guys who need to start producing, or at the least, doing something.

  25. John says:

    By the way Lee, I don’t want to turn this into one of your typical nonsensical arguments but just so I’m correct with this:

    We have to stop comparing (basically) the same team to what happened last year in the playoffs but it’s ok to compare them to how the Hawks of old would have responded.

    Did I get that right?

  26. illinikc33 says:

    John—you took the words right out of my mouth. It’s OK to compare this year to last year because, with the exception of a couple players, they ARE the same exact team. Physical goons don’t win board battles, they play 5 minutes a night to piss off the other team in select situations. Players like Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Ladd, Brower, et al. win board battles. Physicality =/ ultimate board battle winner.

  27. Lee says:

    Ladd and Brower were nonsensical last night as was most of the team

  28. Bob in EP says:

    Carcillo got the game winner for Philly in OT the other night and he can drop a guy with one punch.

  29. John says:

    I think Mick Durand summed it up best. Their physical game was certainly lacking last night but it’s not like it was the only part of their game missing. Also, if the Hawks hit everything that moves in Game 4, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to win. It’s one aspect of the game.

    If we’re going to turn this place into an enforcer’s argument after each Hawks loss, this will not be a fun place to visit.

  30. Lee says:

    John, Did I even mention the word enforcer? No I did not and that was not what I was at all alluding to. Saying that they played soft has nothing to do with my feeling for a tough guy on the team. Playing physical and gooning it up are two entirely different subjects. I would like to see them bring up someone next season to drop the gloves when neccessary but certainly not during the playoffs

  31. John says:

    You didn’t mention it but somehow we always end up there as Daniel Carcillo’s name was brought up. They played soft in one game. They were physically able for the first two games. Like I said, there was more to the game than just ramping up the physicality.

  32. Lee says:

    Totally agree with you but I did not bring Carcillo’s name up nor would I

    Truce!

  33. blackhawkbob says:

    Now kiss and make up you two.

  34. Mick Durand says:

    I was just thinking that maybe the Hawks having their ass handed to them in the quarterfinals against a club that supposedly “ha[d] no business being in the playoffs” will be a double edged sword for those of us that have followed and celebrated this team our entire lives.

    Two things will happen if we lose two more. Well, many things will happen, but of those things, two are directly related to the part of this whole enterprise that I care a great deal about.

    1. The Hawks loss will initiate a thinning of the hurd. That is, all the fans that joined the Stand Bys just so they could get the T-Shirt that came with the membership will forget all about the Hawks. The bandwagoners will flee and the remaining fans, those of us who love this team and franchise based on the many years of memories watching games with our fathers or brothers, playing youth hockey with the dream of stepping on the ice where it counted, will remain. And, we’ll have a good amount of new(ish) fans that actually belonged here all along but just needed the games to be broadcast or the team to actually win in order to remember that they were hockey fans at one point, or that they became hockey fans somewhere in the middle of this 36 month marketing campaign that seems to be hitting a snag. This is the outcome I hope for.

    2. The Hawks loss will be, well, just a loss. And, the converts that block my view at every home game because they weren’t ever taught to wait for a stoppage out of respect for fellow fans, and that boo their home club for not putting up Gretskyesque stats in every period of every tilt, will come to dominate the United Center. This is the outcome that I dread.

    My family once had season tickets at Wrigley. Nice seats. Back when they weren’t as pricey as four years of college. I have many fond memories of summers spent at the park with my family, learning the game from my father, and being taught a respect for the actual athletic competition that was ensuing mere feet from where we were sitting. When Wrigley became a tavern and baseball became just part of the “event”, we opted out. I’ve been to a few games at Wrigley after we cancelled our season tickets, and it’s a college frat party at best. Zero respect for the game, almost no fans with real knowledge of baseball; there are no longer games played at Wrigley. There are events where a game just happens to be occuring.

    The United Center isn’t the Old Stadium. But it’s been a wonderful place to enjoy a hockey game. And, with the success of a team comes the bandwagoners, because teams must make money to win titles. I was at the game on Friday with my brother, at our seats in the 300 level. I can’t tell you how many times the atmosphere reminded us both of Wrigley. The family next to us, fellow season ticket holders, couldn’t have agreed more with our finger on the pulse. For those of us with a deep respsect for this team and for this sport in general, let’s hope that if we lose two more, the folks who belong at Wrigley stay there next year and leave hockey alone.

  35. Lee says:

    ESPN Radio just said that Burish and Bickell will dress and Eager and I think Fraser will sit

  36. Mick Durand says:

    …which means either Buff is still on D or he sits while Boynton skates. Let’s hope for the latter.

  37. John says:

    Q hasn’t ruled out Campbell for Game 5, for what that’s worth.

  38. Big Tony says:

    When did Byfuglien grow that vagina? He was the biggest playe ron the ice, yet the only time he was noticable was when he was coughing it up or not picking up the guy on the doorstep when they scored the first goal. He only has one year left on his deal IIRC. What a waste of a mountain this guy is. Kyle Beach can’t get here fast enough.

  39. Dave Morris says:

    Good article on the Hawks, the fans and the media reaction here:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Blackhawks-ripped-to-shreds-by-media-fans-after?urn=nhl,235665

    I understand how some Hawkophiles want to see the ‘Big Bad Blackhawks’ of yore.

    Even though I’ve always had to observe the Hawks from afar, my memories of the powerhouses of the 60s/70s and the roughhouse crews of the 80s/early 90s are still vivid.

    Not as vivid as they are for some of you.

    Perhaps what we may be forgetting is that the current crop has been marketing and hyped far beyond all reason.

    You don’t think that the constant pressure on these young guys, the interminable PR, the overwhelming media coverage, and all the distractions that come with being a star athlete don’t take a toll on their psyche?

    I suspect that all these things take away from their focus on playing hockey.

    You can say they’re paid dream salaries, but some of these kids can handle it, and some can’t.

    Nashville has zero pressure in comparison. They may seem like a motley crew, but nobody expects them to win. So all Barry Trotz has to do is get them to do what they do best.

    Quenneville’s job is infinitely more complex.

    Stan Bowman has said repeatedly this team is a work in progress, and there will be more changes between now and next season.

    In the meantime, for better or worse, the Chicago Blackhawks have gone from being a doormat to the a Western Conference Finalist, Division Champion and legitimate Cup favorite, all in just a little more than two seasons.

    That kind of progress can raise people’s expectations…maybe higher than they should be.

    In any case, it’s a 2-1 series. Let’s see what the boys do tomorrow night.

  40. Nick says:

    Has anyone seen Toews and Hossa?

    I guess ol’ Cap Serious got his gold medal and decided to call it a year. And Hossa is starting to live up to his rep as a post season recluse.

    We can sit here and talk about board battles and traps, when it comes down to it Toews and Hossa have had some chances and haven’t produced. Kane is doing everything he can, its just too bad that the rest of the “stars” can’t do the same.

    Tonight is a must win. The good news is that if this series gets extended to 7 games, that should give Soup some more time to heal and hopefully be back for the next series. We stand no chance at a cup with Byfuglien on D.

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