If nothing else, this week was going to reveal whether or not the Hawks had indeed built on literally anything over the past 40-odd games after having been prematurely declared “fun” and “pesky” and “suprising” earlier in the season where they accumulated enough points in the skills competition where it was going to be extremely difficult for them to blow the 4-seed they had ensconsed themselves in. But, as has always been the case for the past three seasons under Coach Jeremy Bevington, despite offering a glimmer of hope (as they did Wednesday night), his teams will always blow any and every chance they have in critical games simply because he is completely overmatched on top of running an easily exploitable system. And in the case of the Predators, despite having no true top end scoring (and having the only person who might threaten with that label hurt in Filip Forsberg) and a complete cipher as a coach in John Hynes, their speed and like two basic adjustments – sit on blind breakout attempts up the wall, and have defenseman crash down if a Hawks d-man follows his check above the hashmark on a cycle as he’s stupidly supposed to – proved to be enough to take 15 of 16 points in the season series and ultimately torpedo any ill-conceived playoff hopes the Hawks or their fans/media may have had eyes on both in the macro and micro scale. It’s better this way, however, as there is a very real chance the wrong lessons could have been learned from positive results not matching a bad process.
Tonight is literally the most important hockey game of the season to this point league wide, with the last two teams without a regulation loss squaring off in Music City. The somewhat surprising Predators holding a slight advantage in the standings in the early going, with a shootout loss in the one more game they have played than the Hawks, and Conference III bragging rights are on the line.