Well that wasn’t exactly what we expected, was it? Even in our preview of the game, we imagined that the Predators would come out hard to try and fight for their playoff dreams and the Hawks would have to fight them off desperately in the first. If the Hawks survived that barrage, they would have to make sure they drew first blood and then held on tight to survive the third, where all too often they seem to take their foot off the gas.
Instead, the Predators came out weak in the first and were thoroughly outplayed by the Hawks. The Hawks outshot the Preds 17-7 in the period but of course one sloppy pass led to a turnover and a tie game after one. The second was more of the same, as the Hawks outshot the Preds and carried the play but again found themselves in an even game after 40. The third seemed to be heading down a familiar road before Saad and Toews found the net to take the win. Patrick Kane adds to his point total to ice it and the Blackhawks find themselves the first team to secure a spot in the post-season for the year. Not a bad way to end the week.
- The decision to go with Emery was certainly a curious one and it had questionable results. The Hawks walk away with another two points but Emery’s inability to move side to side was far more exposed in this game than on Saturday. There were a few big saves but it is far from looking like he’s ready for a workhorse type of deal. Please let Crawford start on Tuesday to avoid this unnecessary drama at the end of the season…
- Was I the only one concerned that Shaw may have broken his nose celebrating his goal tonight? That was a pretty extreme leap into the boards.
- The Blackhawks had 5 players with 4 shots on goal tonight… spread across all four lines. The ability to keep rolling these lines (and making other teams pay for it) will be hugely beneficial as the season closes down. The Hawks haven’t been this assured of a spot in the playoffs this early since the cup-winning year and not having to fight tooth and nail for a spot will allow some much needed rest after a shortened season.
- Brian Bickell with two goals in two games. Yeah, that’ll work.
- Kane’s work to set up the eventual game-winner was just phenomenal. This is the level of play we’ve hoped for from him for so long. Now that we’re getting it, it just makes me giddy.
- Handzus continues to outperform what I expected from him. Hell, just winning 57% of the draws is reason enough to keep him around.
- Only Shaw was below 50% at the dot. I’m willing to accept that.. and it’s not like the Preds are awful at faceoffs either. They came into the game just behind the Hawks in overall % but were absolutely hosed tonight.
- The kill continues to be tough as nails. It helps that they only have to work when Shaw gets a little too lippy though.
- In some ways, I’m kind of upset to see the Predators slip away from the playoff picture this year. I’ve never really enjoyed their style so much but there’s a part of me that enjoys a small-market team finding a way to make the playoffs and enjoy some reasonable success. It’s increasingly obvious that won’t happen this year though… I probably won’t lose much sleep over it though.
- Based on McClure’s math (and he’s much better at math than I am) – Hawks need 4 points gained/lost by the Blues to clinch division, 13 points gained/lost by the Ducks to clinch #1 seed in the West. Lets get it done boys.