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Clean Slate, Take 2: Predators Grab Series Lead 1-0

April 17, 2010

In the recap yesterday, Andrew said nothing from the regular season mattered anymore, and the Blackhawks have earned nothing.

Well, let’s clean the slate for yesterday’s game and throw it out the window, because the Hawks are still in the same place they were before the puck dropped yesterday, only now they have to win 4 games and the Preds have to win 3. Perspective.

The Blackhawks didn’t come out with much jump at the beginning of the game, and there were some instances when it was noticeable that they were a little shaky, maybe nervous, but for the first 40 minutes it is safe to say that they dominated the Predators. They weren’t able to convert on as many chances as they should have, considering how very rarely a Blackhawks player positioned himself in front of the net, and Pekka Rinne did whatever he could to foil their shots from the point and absorb the puck the rest of the time.

But sometime in the 3rd period the Predators found themselves on the receiving end of a fortuitous, fluky bounce that got the puck in the back of Niemi’s net, and somehow that deflated the Hawks, even if it only evened the score. Not long after, a scrum in front of the net–the result of a Troy Brouwer turnover–put the Preds up by 2. The game may very well have been over then. The Hawks only managed 4 measly shots on goal in the 3rd while the Predators put up thrice more, adding salt to the wound with 2 empty net goals to put the final score to 4-1. Predators take the series lead 1-0.

Notes:

  • So at the end of the day, the 5 of 8 series ended in upsets after game 1. That number would be 6 of 8 if you consider the 4th-seeded Coyotes an underdog against the 5th-seeded Red Wings, which you should. But game 1 isn’t nearly as important as game 2, so don’t jump off the ledge just yet (though if you do decide to, can you please bequeath your season tickets to me?). All four teams that were down 0-1 after game 1 evened their series last night, and now it’s a best-of-5 game. A Hawks win on Sunday will do the same thing.
  • The Hawks clearly took the 3rd period off, but if they match Nashville in work ethic they should be fine. I’ve always been of the “if you don’t earn it then you don’t deserve it” school of thought, and personally I think it’s easier to adjust attitude than it is to adjust skill.
  • The Hawks are also due a long video review session–there were many glaring errors in the third period alone, and they would do well to note those mistakes and learn from them. Brouwer should have just iced that puck instead of allowing for that turnover to convert to a goal, for instance; his line had been on the ice for a very long time and they were clearly tired by that point. Versteeg shouldn’t have overplayed on that chance that he had. Keith made a couple of silly mistakes that found the puck on the Predators’ stick. No one parked themselves in front of the net, despite their first goal being off a crashing-the-net play. But these mistakes, brought on maybe by nerves, some rustiness, or even overthinking, should be easily remedied.
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