Blackhawks 3, Predators 0

It’s amazing how different of a team the Blackhawks are when they roll four lines.  While the majority of this season has seen the Hawks play with 10 or 11 forwards, only recently with John Scott in the press box and Ryan Johnson keeping all his limbs intact for more than a game have 12 dependable forwards been at Joel Quenneville’s disposal.  Tonight was perhaps the Hawks most impressive team win and the spread of playing times was a big reason why.

Viktor Stalberg was the only skater who had less than 10 minutes of ice and he still played 8:15.   It didn’t hurt that Corey Crawford was perfect on the night, either.

The Hawks scored the all important first goal against Nashville on a delayed penalty late in the first period.  The top line of Kane, Toews, and Sharp all showed incredible patience with the puck.  Kane at the blue line as he waited for his linemates to gain the zone; Toews when he waited for Patrick Sharp to open up for a potential one-timer; and finally Sharp when he, incredibly, didn’t bury his head and just shoot the puck.  He instead found the late-breaking Tomas Kopecky who fired his shot past Pekka Rinne.

In the third, Marian Hossa scored his first non-empty net goal in a millenia when he intercepted a misguided David Legwand cross-ice pass.  Hossa broke away from the pack and beat Rinne through the legs.

The Hawks kept the Predators at bay for the majority of the third.  It wasn’t until the 9 minute mark that the Preds finally started to make a push.  Fortunately, Corey Crawford was there whenever the Hawks needed him.  For the second game in a row, an opposing goal was wiped out by goalie interference.  This wasn’t nearly as questionable as Legwand bulldozed over Crawford before Colin Wilson banged it in. 

And that was that.  Two more points and that’s all that matters.

Thoughts   

–One of the few mistakes, maybe the only one, was the Hawks burning their time-out so early.  After an icing call at the 14:40 mark of the second period, Joel Quenneville burned his lone time-out.  With a TV timeout just one more whistle away and it being so close to the beginning of the period, I thought it was a bit misguided.  Games in Nashville are always nip and tuck.  The Hawks certainly could have used the time-out late in the third when Dowell’s line couldn’t get off the ice. 

Oh well, it’s not an international incident.

–That was probably Duncan Keith’s best defensive game of the season and boy did Foley and Edzo remind us at every turn.  His active stick seems to be returning at the right time.

–I’m not really sure what’s wrong with Ryan Suter but he clearly wasn’t 100% tonight.  That was the worst I’ve ever seen him play.  I can’t even remember how many times Patrick Kane outmuscled him in the corners.  He seemed a step slow physically and mentally all night. 

Nevertheless, expect Nashville to figure everything pretty quickly.  They’re struggling a bit right now, but it’s pretty much a scientific fact they’ll be there at the end.

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14 Responses to Blackhawks 3, Predators 0

  1. Francis Roberts says:

    Nice article, John. I think this game reminded all of us how well this team can play, especially when it rolls 4 solid lines. Isn’t it amazing how much more effective Kopecky is when he does not play on the top two lines? Although Keith played great, I thought all 6 D men played very well. Hendry played 18 minutes, and was not terrible. To see the Hawks team forechecking thier brains out for most of the third period felt good. If the team can play that type of tight defense, they wil win most games since they just have more snipers than the other teams. I am surprised so far by what an all around game Frolik is playing.

  2. I have to agree with Francis, Frolik is doing better than I expected (hoped) and I think that we got a pretty good deal this time around.

    If he can fully adjust to the Blackhawk system I think that he can/will become a new hometown favorite.

  3. modnar says:

    john or bob

    i saw your tweets a few minutes ago about leddy not leaving chicago when he gets sent down. is that really true? where did you hear that?

    the reason i ask is because the hawks aren’t the only team to do the cap-shuffle. living in san jose for a few years, wilson used to do it with a few different players, but when he sent them down, they always caught a flight to worcester. i thought it was a rule that if the player gets sent down they do have to check in with the club physically to prevent that.

    given that, i think the rule is in place and i would think that leddy does have to at least drive out to rockford, but i’d be curious to hear what you know.

  4. John says:

    All I’m going by is that he never plays for them when he gets sent down (during the All-Star break and that week at the end of January where the Hawks were off for a week, he never dressed. I also seem to recall Block mentioning during one of his podcasts that Leddy wasn’t even in the press box. I could be misremembering that, though.) and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t practice with them as well on these off days. I could be wrong on that account, but from what I’ve gathered, he’s here throughout the whole charade.

    I don’t know if checking in is a rule or how strictly it’s enforced, I just think with how the NHL seems to want to crack down on cap circumvention, this is an easy place to start.

  5. feyer says:

    I heard that Nick Boynton has been placed on waivers. Maybe some pre-trade-deadline maneuvering in the works.

  6. modnar says:

    i saw block’s tweet regarding him going on vacation during the all star break and i agree that that is pushing the rule.

    i’m curious though as to how you see changing this? you can’t force a team to dress anyone, be they and nhl team or an ahl team. i agree that there needs to be some sort of “report in person rule” (though i believe it does exist. beyond that and not allowing them access to the nhl team (practices and facilities) i’m sure sure what else you can do.

    do you have other alternatives?

    i guess the one that is in the back of my mind is putting some sort of option limit on players, similar to how baseball does it. every up and down uses an option. that would force teams to be more responsible about when they call players up.

  7. John says:

    The baseball rule is exactly what I was thinking about. Each call up uses an option and once those options run out, a player must be placed on waivers before they can be sent down to the minors. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is something the NHL looks into doing at some point in the future. I did a quick, dirty check of the CBA and didn’t notice any rules that specify physically checking in with the minor league club. I could’ve missed that, though.

  8. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    John keep up the nice work! I also thought this was the Hawks best game of the season. Keith had is best game and this was one of the few Hawks games this season that I was confident the Hawks would hold on and win. My only issue with the Hawks last night was some of the line matchups. I’m glad the first line was mostly intact throughout. I like Keith and Leddy as skating partners

  9. modnar says:

    yeah like i said, i’m just basing it on reading various reports and seeing the san jose players actually fly out to worcester. i know at one point the sharks returned a player to worcester who then loaned him to a wchl team in oakland or sacremento inorder to the player to be able to say in california.

    regardless, i’m sure it’s easier for those teams with ahl clubs much closer.

    i agree that the options thing is probably inline in the next cba. i also can’t see the players fighting it too much given that it will only make more money for those players on two-way contracts.

  10. CT says:

    John, from what I know of baseball’s option system, it wouldn’t help in this case. For one thing, a single option lasts for one season (each player has 3 option years). Also, for the option to be burned, the player must spend 20 consecutive days on the minor league team.

  11. BobbJet says:

    A tad OT but has anyone taken a boo at Hawks upcoming schedule? I don’t recall an NHL team ever having to play 5 games in 7 nights as part of the regular schedule, but that is what I read beginning Feb 27. And with 6 back-to-back games to boot before the playoffs, seems a bit over the top.

  12. BobbyJet says:

    As for Leddy doing the Rockford shuffle. It doesn’t make sense to incur the travel costs if he is not going to dress for Ice Hogs, and if the rule is designed to circumvent costs in the first place, why should the NHL raise a stink over it? The fact that he doesn’t get to practice with the team is enough of an enforcement, in my books.

  13. feyer says:

    Boynton plucked off waivers by Flyers.

  14. Cam says:

    That reported contract for Seabrook is, uh, interesting.

    That’s a ton of dough for a defensive unit that has looked like Swiss cheese a lot this year.

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