Sometimes perspective from the enemy is a good thing, but a little too much can be unhealthy. Thankfully, we have just the right balance for you.
The guys from The Committed Indian found some time between double-fisting tall boys to coherently answer some questions ahead of tonight's opening game. Man, we can't even keep Blackhawks fans out of our own blog.
Both teams have essentially face-planted into the playoffs. What has been going wrong with Chicago and how do they turn it around?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong lately for the Hawks. It's easy to point to the lack of goals and say the offense without Kane has been a problem. And it has. Where Toews and Hossa have been used to combat the other teams' #1 lines (while Kruger and Vermette are more than capable of doing that, freeing up Toews but that's another discussion), the Hawks have been let down by Sharp, Shaw, Versteeg, Saad, and Bickell who are supposed to pick up the secondary scoring.
But mostly they've been bit by the percentages, as the Hawks will enter the playoffs with the lowest shooting percentage of any playoff team and it's hard to believe that will continue. Then again, it's been 82 games of it, so...
#KaneWatch2015 is officially on, as murmurs are the superstar could will return for Game 1. He's an obvious game changer, but is there a worry that the organization is bringing him back just a little too soon?
The Hawks previous handling of injuries does provide a little worry, but this type of injury it's not much. It's a bone, it's either healed or it's not. And considering they're going to start cutting him a check for $10 mildo starting next year, I doubt they'd do anything to jeopardize his long term future. If he's ready to go, he's ready to go.
Kimmo Timonen looks terrible in a red sweater. Everybody knows that, but Nashville will always have a soft spot for him. How has he transitioned from health-scares to Blackhawks roster, and what's his role going forward?
It took longer than we thought it would for Kimmo to get up to speed. Missing a full year at his age was a lot to overcome. That said, his last three or four games he started to look like what we expected -- smart passes, timely pinches, quick exits out of the d-zone. But he missed the last three and a half games after taking a hit from dumpster-dweller Ryan Reaves, and hopefully that doesn't set him back.
The Hawks don't need much from him. With the top four taking a majority of the minutes, they really only need Kimmo to be a bum-slayer for 12-15 well slotted minutes per night. I think he's up to it, but it's not for sure.
If you could tell Predators fans to keep an eye on one player this series, who would it be?
Considering the Hawks have been a contender for so long most everyone knows all the major players, so it's hard to pick someone who might sneak up on you. But I'll be selfish and say Teuvo Teravainen on the 4th line. This kid is going to be a star one day soon and has hands and vision that we've only seen with one other guy (the aforementioned one with the collarbone issue).
Teuvo is kind of a goofy fit on the 4th line but he and Kruger have made it work for the most part. He's small so it might hard for him to make an impact but his brain makes up for it. He makes one play per night that only a few would think of. If he can carry it over, he provides the depth at forward the Preds just can't match.
The Blackhawks win if...?
Their usual defensive game that finally started to reappear at the end of the season sticks around, because I just don't think the Preds have the firepower to break through it consistently at even strength.
The Blackhawks lose if...?
Their PK continues to turn odd colors in the sun, and all the names I mentioned above that haven't provided secondary scoring lately continue to not do so. But the Hawks really only need one or two of them to break through.
Finally, what's your prediction for the series?
It's going to be less than fun, and every game will be tight because both goalies and both defenses are really good (at least the Hawks' should be). But if Kane is anywhere near his full power, the Hawks have a pretty significant advantage on top end scoring amongst the forwards, and that should be the difference. If Game 7 were going to be in Chicago I'd say Hawks in 7, but because Game 6 is I'll say Hawks in 6.
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