Game Six: Blackhawks 5, Predators 3

In an elimination game, there are a handful of things a team cannot do if they hope to extend their season.  Unfortunately for the Predators, they were guilty of two deadly sins in the first period:

A horrible goal allowed and giving up a goal in the final minute of a period.  Both goals came shortly after the Predators had just tied the game. 

With the score 1-1, Jonathan Toews won a neutral zone face-off to Brent Seabrook.  His dump-in caught Patrick Kane’s skate and headed right towards the middle of the net.  Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne was on his way to the corner to slow down the puck.  He couldn’t get back in time and the Hawks went back in front 2-1.

Then just a few seconds after Jason Arnott scored his second goal of the game to tie the game at 3, the Hawks drew a penalty.  On the ensuing face-off, Duncan Keith fired a shot towards the net; Jonathan Toews scooped up the rebound and it was 4-3 with 30 seconds left in the period. 

To make matters worse for Nashville, they gave the Hawks 10 minutes on the power play in the second period.  The Hawks couldn’t capitalize on any of the man-advantages, however.  So early in the third, the Predators had three straight power plays and scored on none of them.

Chalk up another deadly sin and it’s no mystery as to why the Nashville Predators are no longer playing hockey.

It wasn’t that simple, of course.  The Hawks still had to withstand a nasty barrage of chances at the end of the game including a mad flurry with less than 30 seconds left that saw three Predators standing in front of Antti Niemi and only Duncan Keith nearby to help defend. 

Somehow, Niemi turned the chance away and Jonathan Toews flipped a back-hander to center ice.  John Madden won the foot race and buried the puck into the empty net to close out the series. 

It’s on to the Vancouver Canucks for the second straight year. 

Quickies

–An incredible game for the Blackhawks top two centers: Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.  Sure, Sharp may leave something to be desired in the face-off dot, but it’s debateable how important that is anyway.  Toews, on the other hand, was the total package tonight.  Stellar in all three zones and won two huge face-offs against Jason Arnott in the final minute of regulation. 

Both players registered a goal and two assists. 

Adam Burish should have a better series against the Vancouver Canucks.  The Predators were a tough match-up for the Hawks 4th line as there was no discernable difference between their 2nd line and 4th.  Therefore, the lesser talent on the Hawks had a helluva time trying to keep up.  The Canucks, on the other hand, have a pretty significant drop-off in talent from their 2nd line to the 4th. 

–If Dustin Byfuglien can’t play for more than 9 minutes a night on defense, then he needs to move back to forward.  Especially with Roberto Luongo looming, Byfuglien will be an x-factor in this next series.  Not utilizing that when Jordan Hendry can do exactly what Byfuglien is currently doing would be a mistake. 

That being said, I fully expect for Byfuglien to start off the series on defense.  If things don’t go as planned, I’d expect that positional switch to be Joel Quenneville’s first major adjustment.

–One of the most unbelieveable plays you’ll ever want to see happened in the second period.  Off an offensive zone face-off, Brian Campbell’s slap shot snapped his stick in two.  Martin Erat picked up the puck and appeared to be heading the other way on a 2-on-1.  In an incredibly heady play, Duncan Keith immediately handed Campbell his stick from the bench and he recovered enough to slow down the odd-man rush Nashville had going the other way.  Maybe it was a small little incident that wasn’t a big deal, but to me, that’s a championship play. 

–Give credit to Kris Versteeg and Brent Seabrook.  Versteeg sacrificed life and limb after a horrible giveaway in the third.  His defensive zone flip was snagged by Shea Weber and Versteeg dove right in front it to prevent the puck from getting to the net.  Seabrook also jumped in front of a Weber shot after Keith couldn’t clear the puck during a penalty kill in the third.

–In the second period, Troy Brouwer and Adam Burish came in on a 2-on-1 only to have the play whistled dead because Nashville had too many men on the ice.  First of all, the outrage was pretty funny considering it was Burish who was leading the rush.  Secondly, I think it was the right call by the officials.  I couldn’t find it anywhere in my brief glance through the rule book, but I’m almost positive that too many men penalties are whistled dead as soon as an official spots it; not delayed whistle penalties like all others.  Feel free to dispute that.

Marian Hossa is a monster.  He single-handedly created the Hawks third goal when he bulldozed his way through the Predator defense.  For all the criticism, Hossa finished the series with a goal and 6 assists.  More of that, please.

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22 Responses to Game Six: Blackhawks 5, Predators 3

  1. Brian says:

    Hello all,

    Great recap.

    Just one thing though, wasn’t Hossa’s bulldozer-like move on the third goal? Or did you mean the second goal as in the second actual goal, discounting the “how the hell did that one go in?” off the boards?

    Anyway, I need to get to sleep…

  2. Matthew says:

    First of all, great write up.

    Second, I don’t know which goal you mean in your Hossa shout-out, but it couldn’t have been the second, since that was the one that Seabrook scored off of Kane’s skate. I didn’t notice Hossa on that play, and I find it hard to believe that anything anyone did affected the outcome at the net.

    Third, I’m completely with you on the Campbell-Keith stick hand-off. I was pretty much jumping up and down anytime the Hawks did anything good tonight, but that play had me fired up especially high. Very professional, very heads up by both players, and the other D-man (I thought it was 33, but I could have been wrong) and Brouwer both played that perfectly, as well.

  3. Ban says:

    That play by Keith to give Campbell his stick was such a small thing but so smart at the same time. May have possibly saved a goal. That’s when you know the team has chemistry.

  4. Big Tony says:

    When you score a goal like the Seabrook tally, it just may be your year. Let’s hope.

    Agreed about Hossa being a monster last night. Fans don’t boo nobodies, and it seemed he played a bit harder than he usually does when those boos rained down. I hope the Canuck fans boo the shit out of him.

    If Sopel decides one day to donate his body to science, all they’re gonna find is scar tissue, bruises, bad hair, a whole bunch of ugly, and a heart about 10 sizes too big. He may not be the prettiest d-man out there, but damned if that guy isn’t the type of glue/grit guy every title team needs.

    Any word on Kim Johnson? Byfuglien makes me itchy every time I see him with the puck back there.

  5. John says:

    Whoops, third goal. I’ll change that.

  6. Rebecca says:

    definitely agree with keith on passing his stick to campbell. one of the more lucid things edzo and foley commented on last night was that small play right there. that’s worthy of a norris finalist.

  7. Patrick says:

    Great game for the Hawks – here are a couple of observations:

    1. The Hawks are 3-0 with Campbell back in the lineup
    2. That defensive setup of Towes, Hossa and Madden at the end of the game was absolutely sick
    3. Kane is a baby-faced assassin
    4. The best team won – and they played all out to win it

    Looking forward the the ‘Nucks…

  8. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, the Blackhawks have passed their first test.

    The sighs of relief in Chicago can be heard all the way up here.

    The Hawks learned how to ‘play ugly’ in this series. Many of their critical goals were scored from improbable places. They blocked the shots that had to be blocked, and won the board battles that had to be won. Mister Niemi made the saves that had to be made.

    And Mister Toews was the embodiment of the word ‘Captain’.

    The boys put away the press clippings, and showed they could grind it out with an opponent who did everything they could to put sticks in their spokes.

    And now, the *hated* Canucks.

    The second round has all the makings of a classic.

    How excited are we?
    🙂

  9. Otter says:

    I’m done with the Byfuglien on the Blue Line stuff. He’s going to kill the Hawks at some point if he’s still playing D against the Canucks. He’ll be on the ice with the twins… and the Hawks will be toast. This needs to end asap.

    I also wouldn’t be against sitting Burish. I know he’s a 4th line guy, but I’d rather take my chances that “good” Ben Eager shows up than having Burish doing whatever it is Burish does.

    Anyway, Hawks put away the Preds and we don’t have to go though what the Caps are going through… a Game Seven were all the pressure is on the home team.

  10. Lee says:

    I want to go on record saying that anything I ever said bad about Brent Sopel I take back. He was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!l

  11. Big Tony says:

    I agree with DaMorris. The Hawks got nasty, grubby and did the things to beat a pesky bastard squad like Nashville. Once they realized the series wasnt just a prelim for the semifinals, they won 3 straight in not-always-pretty fashion.

    I hope Vancouver tries to outskate us. Truly I do.

  12. Tim Alvine says:

    The Blackhawks and Canucks meet again… it doesn’t get much better than this folks. Last year, Vancouver gagged themselves and lost against the Hawks but this year, Luongo will be the difference maker… here is a preview and proof.. http://www.lionsdenu.com/nhl-playoffs-western-conference-round-two-preview-and-predictions/
    Either way I see this series going DEEP … and it’s going to be a doozie.

  13. CT says:

    Screw all this, I want to hear more about Michael McGeough and his selfless trips to the AHL.

  14. John says:

    Outstanding CT.

  15. Brian Davies says:

    On Campbell getting Keith’s stick — Edzo was giving Keith all the credit, but after the closeup replay of the handoff, they showed a longer shot of that breakaway from the camera at the end of the ice, and there were 4-5 sticks hanging over the boards! That was deeper than one good defenseman. That was a dim-sum-style handoff.

  16. Patrick says:

    CT – at first, I thought he was tying Michael McGeough to Edzo’s hockey camps. Just plain stupid…

  17. blackhawkbob says:

    Agreed, Brian. Taking that one step further, I haven’t heard Campbell himself get any credit for that play. Even so, Capbell turned around and immediately skated towards the boards rather than the middle of the ice like he normally would have.

    All in all, it was a fantastic, cool play. And, I’m not sure I’ve ever really mentioned it on the sit – probably becaue it’s stupid – but I think the stick is really what separates hockey from the other major American team sports. Think about it: in what other popular sport do players carry a personalized piece of equipment that is as important as it is interchangeable? The stick is one of the many reasons I love the game; it creates so many unique occurrences, just like it did last night.

  18. JM says:

    Thank god that’s over.

    Now its time to put on the warpaint.

  19. bobby b says:

    time to salute mr. sopel indeed. while i still remain uncomfortable with his skating and puck handling, the man has a knack for being in the right place at the right time… in both offensive and defensive zones. the comment about heart is dead on.

    i never thought campbell would return before johnnson. what kind of drugs are they giving soup to heal so quickly or play with broken bones?

    no way huet makes those stops at the end of the third period. that was big time net minding. what kind of a deal does niemi get next season?

  20. Patrick says:

    One more thing that I would add – TKop – he looks like he’s gotten useful, and even smarter. He’s playing like he wants it.

    To me, it was 50/50 that he’d be back next year, now I think he’s punched his ticket.

  21. AC says:

    @bobby b, I believe someone had come to the conclusion in a previous thread that Johnsson was being harvested for parts to rebuild Campbell. This would certainly explain why Campbell is back and Johnsson is nowhere to be seen or heard.

  22. feyer says:

    this just in…

    The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forwards Kyle Beach, Jake Dowell and Jack Skille, defensemen Brian Connelly, Jassen Cullimore, Shawn Lalonde and Danny Richmond and goaltender Hannu Toivonen from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.

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