While Pat Foley and Ed Olcyzk continue to fellate the Predators and all that they do, here’s a rousing list of discussion points:
–Let’s just hold our breath on this whole Duncan Keith injury. I figured it was a busted finger; Bob assumes a broken hand. Either way, not good. In case you missed it, Keith took a point shot off his hand region very early in the second period, shook it immediately and was never seen from again. But let’s give credit to the Blackhawks media department who waited until there was 8 minutes left in the third to inform us Duncan Keith would not be returning. Thanks for that.
One person who’s probably hoping for the worst is Sami Lepisto. After tonight, he very likely would have gone straight to the penthouse of Joel Quenneville’s doghouse never to be heard from again. Though it wasn’t really his fault, Nashville’s second goal deflected off his skate and right to Martin Erat who fed Craig Smith for the goal. Then in the third, Lepisto’s point shot was easily stopped by Jonathan Blum who sprung Jordin Tootoo on a clear breakaway.
–Huge ups to Mike Haviland in his pre-third period interview. Pat Foley basically gave him an easy out of a question by crediting the Nashville Predators for basically being the Predators but Haviland wouldn’t take it. He went to say the Hawks have had their chances and while the Predators can be frustrating in their style of play, the Hawks just weren’t burying their opportunities. He couldn’t be more right.
One of my bigger pet peeves is when teams get credit for their play based soley on their reputation and not how they’re playing in said game. Foley and Olcyzk said early in the second period something along the lines of, “You don’t want to fall behind a goal to the Predators because you’re not going to get any odd man rushes or many offensive chances.”
The Predators gave up three odd man rushes in the second period alone with Patrick Kane being the trigger man on all three. The only reason the Hawks were trailing 3-2 in the third was because the Hawks couldn’t capitalize on any of those golden opportunities; not because of some amazing defensive effort being turned in by the Nashville Predators.
That’s without including all the unforced errors the Predators committed tonight. But seriously, look how cool and collected they are in their defensive zone.
–The Hawks have way too much talent on their power play unit to be this bad for much longer. In the third period, they looked as good as they have in a while. With a 5-on-3 for a minute and a half and a power play late in regulation, the Hawks had a ton of movement which generated terrific point blank opportunities. Pekka Rinne was easily Nashville’s best killer turning away the Hawks at every turn.
On Nashville’s 5-0n-3, the Predators couldn’t get anything going but were fortunate enough that Corey Crawford allowed an incredibly soft goal. When it’s going bad, it really goes.
At some point, though, it’s going to turn. The last three power plays show what the Hawks are capable of when they’re moving their feet and opening up passing lanes.
–It speaks to the Hawks talent when their goalie can lay an egg and they still squeak out the two points. Crawford was clearly not at his best tonight but much as was the case a couple years ago, it didn’t affect the Hawks effort level. Save for a few stretches, the Hawks were clearly the better team.
–I don’t necessarily have a problem with the Hawks punting on their 18th skater and dressing John Scott. My problem lies in the unneccesary risk they take with something happening in-game (i.e. injury, misconduct, etc), losing a skater, and then effectively being down to 16 skaters. Sure enough, Duncan Keith went out with 35+ minutes left and the Hawks spent the rest of the game with 11 forwards and 5 defensemen.
They got away with it tonight but it’s not something they should get in a habit of doing. Surely, Rusty Olesz can give the Hawks more than 2 minutes a game and surely he can take a shift on the power play or penalty kill in a pinch.
–Call me crazy but there are few things I’ve been getting more enjoyment out of this season than watching Andrew Brunette with the puck below the goal line. The results haven’t been there yet but the guy is magical in tight spots (Hey Hey!). If there’s been more than six passes that haven’t ended up exactly where he wanted to put them, I can’t recall them. It’s only a matter of time before Jonathan Toews or whomever is playing on the opposite wing starts cashing in on those gorgeous passes.