Down to a Best of Five: Blackhawks @ Predators Game 3 Preview
Game Time: 8:00 pm CT
TV/Radio: VERSUS, RIS, TSN / WIND-AM 560
Don’t, It’s a Trap! On the Forecheck
The thing with playoff series is that when you’re facing the same team day in and day out for a best of seven round, there won’t be much more left to say after a while–and we’re just in game 3. But the series is now a best-of-5, with the Predators earning home ice advantage.
Here’s What You Need to Know:
- Hornqvist, the Predators’ leading goal scorer, is a game-time decision. He didn’t play in the second game of the series either though he was hardly a factor in the first. Patrick Kane has factored in all 3 Blackhawks goals so far this series.
- The Blackhawks have converted 1 of 7 (14.28%) power play chances.
- The Predators have converted 0 of 7.
- Antti Niemi has a 1.01 GAA and a SV% of 0.957
- Pekka Rinne isn’t far behind with a 1.53 GAA and a 0.949 SV%
Keys to the Game:
- Score Two Early. With games as tight as this series is turning out to be, the Blackhawks can’t afford to give the Predators room to play their game, and they’re very good at playing tied, up 1, or down 1. In those cases they are more than comfortable in sitting back and allowing the Blackhawks to make mistakes that they can capitalize on. Take those scenarios away from them and they’ll be forced to play the up-tempo game that the Hawks are so skilled at. Plus, scoring early takes the Bridgestone Arena crowd out of the game fast.
- Shoot Low and Crash the Net. Pekka Rinne is the Preds’ MVP in this series. He absorbs rebounds like nobody’s business. Scrums need to happen in front of him. Someone’s ass needs to be blocking his view. Tip-ins, deflections, dirty rebounds are the way to go. Anything fancy won’t go in if he can see it, unless you’re Patrick Kane’s 6th shot on goal.
- Simplify and Stay Safe. Niemi’s rebound control still sometimes borders on the line of juicy, so the Hawks need to be ready to clear the puck out of the zone and collapse in front of the net if need be. They’ve done a great job covering shooting lanes and making it hard for the Preds to do anything against Niemi–more of that, please. But at the same time, when they’re down by a few the Preds can become pretty aggressive on the forecheck and when they’re pressuring in the Hawks’ zone, the safe play (icing the puck or dumping it) could be the right one.
UPDATE: Looks like Horqvist is out tonight. Good news for the Hawks.