Sunday, April 19, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs. Predators
4-2 Game 3 Win Recap

Hometown Cookin'
by Patrick Stankus

After a flat out embarrassing performance in the third period of Friday's night game in Nashville, the Blackhawks looked to right the ship during Game 3 on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Coach Joel Quenneville made the decision on Saturday afternoon to go with #LemontNativeScottDarling as his starting goalie for Sunday. Much has been debated since Game 1 on who to go with in net, but following Sunday, the Hawks may have made their bed, and have to ride a little know rookie for the playoff run.

Sunday's game got off to a somewhat rugged start for the Hawks. Just over a minute in, Kimmo Timonen couldn't keep a loose puck in the zone, and while on the backcheck, took a lazy penalty thus relegating the Hawks shorthanded early on. The struggling of late penalty kill was able to come thru with a huge kill early on to keep the Hawks from digging themselves a bigger hole. With just over 5 minutes remaining in the 1st period, the fourth line delivered a gritty shift, which saw Andrew Desjardins put the Hawks out front 1-0. The lead however would be short lived, as just 31 seconds later, Mike Ribeiro would off a shot from the slot to tie the game at one. That's where we would stand as the horn sounded ending the first period.

The second period would feature a lot of wide open play. The scoring got going early on, as a great backcheck by Jonathan Toews, led to a turnover and a nifty pass to Marian Hossa. Hossa then in turn passed the puck back to Toews who fired a twisted wrister past Rinne to put the Hawks back in front. Much like the first period though, the lead wouldn't last long, as a point shot by Mattias Ekholm tied things up at two. From that point on in the second period, the Blackhawks turned on the overdrive. Less than 3 minutes later a breakdown in coverage, sprung Brandon Saad up the left side into the Predators zone, and blew a wrist shot past Rinne to put the Hawks back in front. The Hawks did catch a break when Patrick Sharp had a blowout and it led to Gabriel Bourque getting a great opportunity, despite beating Scott Darling, he rang the puck off the post, keeping the Blackhawks 3-2 lead intact. Just past the midway portion of the period, a wide open Brent Seabrook fired a puck from the slot past Rinne to put the Hawks up 4-2. Late in the period, the Hawks had the chance to go up 3 on the Preds, but a Brad Richards back hand hit the post. After two periods, the Hawks would lead 4-2.

As much of a run and gun style of play that was going on during the 1st two periods, the third period looked to be a different story. For the most part early on, the Hawks were on the heels, but Scott Darling came up with the big saves the Hawks needed them. Just over 5 minutes in, the Hawks did have a chance to change the momentum, but a lackluster power play killed any hopes of that. As the period went on, the Hawks would weather the storm by the Predators, and end up taking Game 3 by the final score of 4-2.

The Good
- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were easily the two most noticeable Hawks this afternoon, and it showed up on the scoresheet. Yes, Hossa took an out of character penalty, but that was the only blemish on either of those two today.
- After being a healthy scratch in the 1st two games, Andrew Desjardins had a really strong game. He had the Hawks opening goal, but all around had a very effective game.
- After recent struggles, it was nice to see the penalty kill have a game where they killed off both power plays that Nashville had.
- Scott Darling was solid in net, stopping 35 of 37 shots. After this kind of performance as a starter, its time that the Hawks just ride with him. Otherwise, if you keep bouncing back and forth, you run the risk of screwing with both goalies' confidence, which at playoff time is something you don't need.
- If we're going to criticize and nit pick when he doesn't play well, then we had better give him credit when he deserves it. Michal Rozsival had a strong game. If you deny that, then you really are hellbent on making him the scapegoat for all of the Hawks problems.

The Bad
- The Hawks had the opportunity to put this game away for good just over 5 minutes into the third period, but as we know all too well, a shit show of a power play couldn't produce.
- Kimmo Timonen wasn't very good today. I'll go as far to say he's teetering on becoming a liability on defense. He took an early penalty, which put a dent in the Hawks momentum, which was also a result of him being beat at the Hawks blueline.
- I still don't understand why Teravainen was a scratch today. What has Versteeg shown that warrants him in the lineup over Teravainen? The answer is nothing. This is a classic example of Versteeg being a "Q Guy."
- Seriously, the overzealous cheering of a save by Darling in the first period was annoying.

The Ugly
- Could we stop being referee experts and instantly criticize refs for blowing the whistle too soon? We have the benefit of seeing on a replay if the puck was still loose, however, if the referee looses sight of the puck he's supposed to blow the whistle. Its a good rule, and one that doesn't need to be reviewed.
- Allowing 37 shots, (17 alone in the 2nd period) is playing with fire in the playoffs. You'd like to see the Hawks clog up more of the shooting lanes, and limit the shots on net.
- In keeping with the playing with fire theme, how about not allowing a goal on the next shift after you score. The Blackhawks did that twice today and got away with it.
- Mike Ribeiro's disgusting Barrett Jackman lookalike face. WOOF.


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