In the first game of a back-to-back, the Blackhawks never had to take it out of third gear and still thoroughly outplayed the Nashville Predators. If it weren’t for Pekka Rinne, the Predators could have lost this game going away. So pretty much the exact same story as when the teams met on Monday and likely will be the same tomorrow. On to the bullets.
- From what I remembered about Handzus and what I saw in limited viewings since he left the Hawks, he’s definitely quicker and smoother than I was expecting. In his two games, he creates a decent amount of space for his linemates, doesn’t get swallowed up by the competition and is still offensively inclined enough to make something happen every once in a while. Case in point, five minutes into today’s game where he set Bryan Bickell up with an alley-oop goal for the game’s only tally. Also, it’s very strange to have a center other than Toews that is nearly automatic at the dot.
- GOALIE CONTROVERSY. Actually, so long as Emery keeps pitching shutouts, there won’t be much of one. And that’s not the worst thing in the world. As long as the Hawks have a goalie that doesn’t occasionally barf on himself, I don’t care who it is. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery aren’t exactly a combination of Ed Belfour and Dominik Hasek but so long as one of them is playing well enough to win, that’s all that really matters.
- Has anyone that is a Hart Trophy candidate ever played with less inspiring linemates than Patrick Kane has this year? Dave Bolland, Jimmy Hayes, and today he added Marcus Kruger and Dan Carcillo to his resume. You’d probably have to go back all the way to Sergei Fedorov winning the Hart in ’93-94 to find a Hart winner that elevated his game so high that he overcompensated for the fact of who his linemates were.
- Every game I watch Brandon Saad play, I fall deeper in love with him.
- Yeah, it was the Nashville Predators, but the Hawks team defense has to start somewhere. There were a handful of great defensive plays made in the third period to help Ray Emery preserve the shutout and the victory. Brent Seabrook lifted a stick in the crease in the final seconds to prevent a shot. Duncan Keith took picture-perfect body position in the crease during a mad scramble that turned what should have a golden opportunity for Nashville into a non-opportunity. Niklas Hjalmarsson had the patience to wait for an elevated puck to land before clearing it out of the zone. Those were just the plays that stood out in my head but all of them were critical to keeping Nashville off the board.
- A regulation loss tomorrow and Nashville will find themselves chasing 4 teams with only 8 games left and at least 4 points out of the 8th spot. I stop short of saying their playoff streak will be coming to an end this season, but it’s going to take a run of good fortune for them to make the playoffs this year. And after watching them huff and puff for just one goal in the last week, it’s hard to imagine it’s going to happen for them. Long story short, the world is a better place with a Nashville Predators team on the outside of the playoff picture.