After winning a tight 1-0 game on Thursday night, where Pekka Rinne had to be perfect, the Predators play the Blackhawks in Game 2 tonight. With a win, the Predators could take a commanding 2-0 lead back to Nashville.
The Chicago Blackhawks
This week, we’ve previewed the key components of this Blackhawks team:
- Special Teams
- Some positivity from Austin
- Some final thoughts from Alex
The Blackhawks, after being well rested and given a lighter practice workload by Head Coach Joel Quenneville, could not crack the Predators defense and Pekka Rinne on Thursday night. However, it was not for a lack of trying—the Blackhawks were constantly swarming in the Predators’ defensive zone for the last two periods. Nevertheless, they took 28 shots that were blocked, so they need to do a much better job at shooting through traffic rather than directly at it.
Quenneville must have seen some things that severely irked him, as in practice yesterday he changed the composition of three lines, namely his first, third, and fourth lines. Ryan Hartman replaced Nick Schmaltz on the first line. Schmaltz then joined the third line with Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa. Finally, Dennis Rasmussen replaced John Hayden on the fourth line.
It should be interesting seeing these what these changes do. Hartman has been playing very well as of late and did score a hat trick against the Predators earlier this season, so perhaps Quenneville is hoping he can bring some of that magic to Toews’ line. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks are going to come out angry and energized that the Predators took game one.
The Nashville Predators
Even though the Predators won 1-0 on Thursday night, they cannot expect to win this series only scoring one goal per game. The Blackhawks have far too many weapons for the Predators to just sit back in their own zone and expect Rinne to save them. This is no longer a Predators team that relies on #grit to win games. They must continue to pressure the Blackhawks.
What worked extremely well in the first period was the strong forecheck by the Predators. Being able to pin the Blackhawks deep in their own zone was extremely disruptive to Chicago being able to break the puck out.
Colin Wilson still has not practiced, so his status is likely doubtful for tonight. It remains to be seen what the lines will be for tomorrow, but expect more of the same. Pontus Aberg made a great debut on Thursday night, so hopefully he’ll stick around in the lineup for at least one more game.
Some sparks flew at the end of game one, with a fight breaking out right as time expired. Perhaps we see Miikka Salomaki join the lineup to set the tone?
Sights and Sounds
The puck drops at 7:00pm from the United Center. The game will be nationally broadcast through NBC and 102.5 The Game will have the radio call.