Blackhawks stumble to Predators 6-1

In an important game that could determine teams playoff positioning the Blackhawks just did not have anything going for them. Still missing captain Toews and Montador and Kruger still out themselves with upper body injuries and Duncan Keith out serving his suspension you knew it would be a tall order for the Hawks to overcome Nashville. The Predators have had the Hawks number all year and now lead the series 4-0-1 with only one game remaining in Nashville. The Hawks have not been able to solve Pekka Rinne all year.

The game not only was a four point swing it enabled Nashville to jump ahead of Detroit as well in the 4th spot in the Western Conference standings. The only consolation for the Blackhawks is if they stay in the sixth spot they most likely will not have to face Nashville in the first round but the Hawks need to make sure they make the playoffs. They can not afford to drop games and points until they are sure they will be in the playoffs. 

This is one of those games the Hawks need to put behind them and just chalk it up to not being their night. It seemed every bounce went the Predators way. Four of the six goals were redirections or deflected. Halischuk, Kostitsyn, Hornqvist, Bouillon, Fisher and Weber all scored for Nashville. The lone tally for Chicago was Stalberg but it was too little too late.

It was also not Crawford’s better nights giving up four goals when he was pulled and Ray Emery came in the third period in relief. Neither goaltender had a good night which was ironic since they were honoring former goalie Ed Belfour with a Heritage Night. 

The lone bright spot for the Blackhawks was when Tootoo engaged Bollig in a fight and probably regretted it as he never returned to the game. Bollig clearly had the upper hand in fight. 

The Hawks special teams also played a role in this one as they went 0-4 on their power play and did give up a power play goal to Nashville. They could have gotten back in the game if they would have clicked on any of their power plays but as has been the case all year it continues to plague them. This I believe was the turning point in the game. 

Observations

·       The Hawks will need to study a lot of film of Nashville because I have a feeling they will be seeing them again in the post season and if for nothing else they should want to make a decent showing in their last regulation game against them. 

·       Rinne is human so there must be a weakness there. The Hawks have not gotten much net presence in front of him in any of their games or sustained pressure so they need to solve this riddle.

·       Special teams are really costing the Hawks, particularly that dreaded power play. Somehow they need to get this fixed or I guarantee it will be their undoing in the playoffs. The entry into the zone is horrid. There is no speed or zip when entering the zone and why not dump and chase.

The Hawks don’t have too long to think about this one as they head to New Jersey to face the Devils which will be the last Eastern Conference team they will face this year. They need to get ready for the Devils and St. Louis and Nashville again so this week won’t get any easier. The month of March has been good to the Hawks so they were probably due for a loss.  

Three stars of the game – 1) Rinne  2) Weber 3) Hornqvist

Hawks play again Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils which can be caught on CSN or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 6:00 pm CT

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