Can I share with you all my new biggest fear? It’s not about the reinstatement of prohibition or the new Avengers movie being as bad as Dark Knight Rises. It’s that we may be witnessing the birth of the Predators becoming just as obnoxious and awful as St. Lewis is now. I don’t mean that they’ll become as terrible, ignorant, ugly and racist as Cardinals fans. But I mean that with Laviolette running the program, we’ve already seen them adjust to an uptempo and aggressive style. With James Neal and Mike Ribeiro, they’ve got more than enough assholery. And to back it all up. They’ve got plenty of skill too. We’ve mentioned it before but the Preds have guys that can flat out play and some that are only just now going to be reaching their full potential. And no matter what, I think there’s always going to be enough leftover Trotz in this team that they’re not going to go flying off the handle and shoot themselves in the foot the way the Blues can. It’s almost Halloween.. this is the time to talk about what scares you, right?
And so for much of this game, we saw just what we expected from the new look Preds. They were quick on turning the game around, not afraid to skate with the Hawks and it seemed to be paying off. They had the Hawks pinned until Ben Smith was able to knock in a rebound after some gritty work and unreal hand/eye coordination. Then it became the James Neal show… with some help but we’ll get to that in the
- I don’t know if there’s a way to track this sort of thing (Tracking is Jen’s job) but it seems that early on the Hawks are attempting to play more shots off the boards behind the net so far early this year. Rather than look for deflections, the Hawks seem to be intentionally shooting wide from the point and looking for a helpful deflection. That certainly seemed to help Patrick Kane previously but wasn’t as much of a factor tonight. If this is the case, the game in Detroit ought to be extra interesting.
- I’m still just really not used to seeing the game played at this speed with those awful sweaters. At least once they had a two goal lead they really started stacking up 3 guys on the blueline to deny the Hawks entry. It was closer to what we’ve seen before so it made more sense.
- It also made sense to see Versteeg try to stick handle his way past all those yellow sweaters collapsing on him. Not that it was the right play.. just that it made sense in seeing Steeger attempt it.
- Foley mentioned this a bit.. The Preds instituted a “keep the red out” policy for the game. I think that means you had to buy tickets to a second non-Chicago game in order to get these tickets (probably still cheaper than a single ticket to the UC) but they also gave a bag of popcorn to anyone wearing a yellow sweater. Foley also mentioned you would get two tickets if you turned in a Hawks shirt or cap too. Did I hear that right? That can’t be right, can it? I mean.. this piece of shit costs less than a dollar. Would that have got me two tickets?
- McClure mentioned in the preview and it was said countless times in the broadcast… but the Preds more than ever are relying on their opponents to make mistakes. Previously, it was more a sit back and wait method. Now, it’s more of an apply pressure til one happens model. Either way, that’s exactly what happened for Neal’s second goal. A bad pass from Richards led to Nashville getting the puck into the Hawks zone. A failed clear from Saad put the puck right on Neal’s stick for his laser past Raanta.
- Speaking of Richards, pressure has got to be mounting in his head. This was one of the first games I watched with sound recently so I don’t know if the crew has been calling him out lately but he was definitely a focus today. I’m still of the mind to let things settle in a bit more but it won’t be too long before we all join in with the same thoughts.
- Sometimes Pekka Rinne is just going to be Pekka Rinne. Other times his hips explode. This was a case of the former.
- At least the third period was decidedly scored for the Blackhawks. That at least made the game fun. See you in StL. Don’t touch anything while you’re there.. it’s icky.