If the Blackhawks were playing in the NFL, they’d be packing their bags and heading home for the off-season. Fortunately for them, they get a reprieve. In short, last night’s 1-0 loss to the Nashville Predators was frustrating to say the least.
For weeks now, there was the suggestion Chicago had nothing to play for. Nothing mattered. But they were fine tuning for the playoffs. And this is what we get. The Preds did exactly what they had to do to take game one and grab home-ice. Nashville came out fast and took the crowd out of the Madison Avenue stadium. Eight minutes in Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson deflection put the first and only goal of the game on the board. Then the Predators did what they do well. Played defense and stymied the Hawk attack. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne was good enough in goal in turning aside 29 Hawk shots. Was he shutout good? Not really. But it is what it is. “He looked all right tonight because we didn’t make it tough on him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Any goalie who sees the puck as much as he did tonight is going to be effective. Whether we look the puck to the net ourselves or had the net presence or played goal when we’re at the net, I think that’s where we have to find a way to get through, hang around. That’s where the rewards are.”
Now the Hawks must find their shovels and ready themselves for the Big Dig. Saturday night’s Game 2 will be huge. And it will matter. And it will be up to the veterans on this team to get the series righted. Let’s get one thing spoken. If…the Hawks play to their capabilities, there is no one in the Western Conference that can beat them. That’s if. Months ago, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane spoke of the New England Patriots run to the NFL Championship. They praised the effort and the drive. Last night was not that.
Is the criticism strong? For sure. But you don’t offer words of praise to what it takes to win……say you’re putting your game together and come out as flat as they did. Time to look in the mirror boys. Midway in the game I remarked to my son. “I have the feeling, like I do at times with this team, that they aren’t going to score tonight. You can just feel it”. Sure enough those words became prophetic. Hopefully I won’t feel that again this series.
There is the mindset in sport that as bad as an egg as you can lay in one game, you get an opportunity to right yourself in the next. Good thing Easter is around the corner. Let’s see what’s in the basket.
Thanks for checking in,