Blackhawks 3, Predators 0: No Bite

In what was billed as perhaps the most important game of the season (to date), the Nashville Predators couldn't get it done against their divisions rivals Chicago. It was an admirable effort in some areas of the ice, but clouded in general by the lack of execution around the Chicago net. 

After the jump, further reaction to the loss. Player quotes will have to come later, as storms chased me out of the rink early. 

UPDATE: You can hear lots of postgame audio clips after the jump, which is pretty interesting, particularly Barry Trotz's press conference. 

First, the video highlights and Blackhawks vs Predators boxscore:

Next, postgame audio from coach Barry Trotz, captain Shea WeberJerred Smithson, Mike Fisher (12), and Colin Wilson. On the Blackhawks side of things, hear from Corey CrawfordDuncan Keith, and Joel Quenneville

Ten Nine (oops) thoughts on tonight's game: 

  • In what is becoming (has become?) an alarming trend, the Predators were able to get off to a lightning-quick start, registering several solid chances, including a sterling glove save by Corey Crawford on Martin Erat 11 seconds into the game. The problem, as you well know, is that the Preds weren't able to finish those chances. And it bit them, again...
  • ...when Tomas Kopecky scored as the extra attacker on a delayed penalty late in the 1st period. It was a nice shot by Kopecky, but the build-up is something I'd love to see more of out of the Nashville offense. Patrick Sharp patiently kept the puck away from the Preds' defense and fired it to Kopecky coming off the bench. It was an easy finish thanks to the positioning movement of Chicago's offense. 
  • There's a chance that Jonathan Blum is actually in his fifth or sixth year in the NHL, and it just slipped past everyone. Blum looked very solid in his debut against Columbus, and tonight, he was breaking up prime Jonathan Toews scoring chances, laying good checks on Marian Hossa, and pinching in at the right time. For a team that needs a defenseman, this was a revelatory performance (to say nothing of the scratching of Alexander Sulzer.)
  • Early in the 2nd period, Chicago center was helped to fall into Pekka Rinne by defenseman Cody Franson. Not an uncommon occurrence, of course, unless Johnson punched Rinne after the whistle. Which he did. An unacceptable play which had the potential to mar an otherwise competitive and clean game. 
  • In yesterday's practice report, Dirk mentioned that the team worked on shooting the puck. Apparently, it didn't take. Too many drop passes were attempted and too many fancy plays tried for my tastes, regardless of shot totals. As The Great One once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
  • I don't often complain about the referees, but tonight will be an exception. They missed calls on both sides of the ice, particularly several too many men occasions. Now, who knows what the teams would've done with the power plays, but you'd like to see a game called a bit more accurately. 
  • Most nights in the NHL, a number one line consisting of Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher, and Martin Erat won't get it done. They didn't score, but the trio was easily the best line on the ice for either team, and it was encouraging to see Fisher develop further chemistry with Marcel Goc's former linemates. 
  • Without a finisher, though, it was all for naught. Time after time the Preds couldn't convert, and it lost them the game. You can officially mark me a passenger on the "trade for a goalscorer" bandwagon after tonight's game. 
  • The tilt was announced as a sellout, Nashville's 11th of the year, 2nd consecutive, and 5th in the past 9 games. All night long, the crowd was waiting to blow the roof off of Bridgestone Arena, and it's a shame the team didn't give them reason to. Kudos to the crowd for braving the weather, though.

As for the advanced even-strength stats, two things to note here. First, that Jon Blum had the 3rd highest ice time after Suter & Weber. Secondly, don't get too excited about those Corsi numbers. The Blackhawks 21-6 edge in Blocked Shots pretty much neutralized that advantage...

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Mike Fisher C 17:53 2 2 1 1 10 10 0 23 14 +9
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 17:27 0 1 1 0 11 9 +2 24 13 +11
 David Legwand C 17:10 2 0 1 0 10 5 +5 21 12 +9
 Martin Erat R 16:55 3 0 0 0 10 8 +2 23 12 +11
 Joel Ward R 16:27 5 1 0 1 12 4 +8 18 10 +8
 Colin Wilson C 16:25 1 2 0 0 11 4 +7 17 9 +8
 Patric Hornqvist R 16:15 4 2 2 0 8 6 +2 17 12 +5
 Steve Sullivan L 13:53 0 0 0 0 7 5 +2 17 10 +7
 Jerred Smithson R 12:50 0 1 0 0 8 3 +5 13 6 +7
 Nick Spaling C 11:27 1 0 0 0 3 7 -4 10 10 0
 J.P. Dumont R 11:00 1 2 0 0 2 7 -5 9 9 0
 Jordin Tootoo R 10:29 0 0 3 0 3 7 -4 10 9 +1
 Shea Weber D 26:08 3 3 2 0 11 9 +2 27 17 +10
 Ryan Suter D 24:50 2 3 0 2 11 9 +2 27 17 +10
 Jonathon Blum D 21:23 2 0 2 2 12 8 +4 22 14 +8
 Kevin Klein D 18:15 1 1 2 0 9 8 +1 20 12 +8
 Shane O`Brien D 14:22 1 1 1 0 11 7 +4 20 11 +9
 Cody Franson D 13:37 3 2 0 0 8 9 -1 18 13 +5
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