Saturday, April 25, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs. Predators
4-3 Game 6 Win Recap

Elimination Chamber
by Patrick Stankus

On Saturday night the series between the Blackhawks and Predators shifted back to Chicago, with a storm brewing. On Friday Joel Quenneville announced that Scott Darling would be the starting goalie, rather than Corey Crawford following the Game 5 loss. With plenty of debating going back and forth on who to start, Blackhawks fans' had one thing they all agreed upon heading into Game 6, that is Mike Ribeiro is a disgusting goblin. But enough about Ribeiro and the goalies, lets get onto the more important part, Game 6.

The action got started early on in the first period, as a hit on Brandon Saad forced a turnover, allowing the Preds to comeback the other way, and James Neal beat Darling to give the Preds a 1-0 lead just over a minute in. Scoring was fast and furious in the first. Just before the midway point of the 1st, Neal would redirect a point shot past Darling, to increase the Preds lead to 2-0. While the Blackhawks were being completely outplayed, Patrick Sharp was able to breathe some life into the team, as he scored to cut the Preds lead in half. Whatever momentum the Hawks were being was short lived as on the next shift Matt Cullen danced around Duncan Keith and beat Darling with a perfect shot to give the Preds a 3-1 lead, thus ending Darling's night. There was no hesitation on Quenneville's part as he quickly made the switch to Crawford in a hope to spark the team. Without a question, it worked. The Blackhawks play was much improved in the final 9 minutes of the period. A little over a minute after the change was made, Jonathan Toews redirected a point shot by Sharp to pull the Hawks back within one. In the waning seconds of the 1st period, off a faceoff win by Brad Richards, Patrick Kane tied the game at three, ending a wild opening period of play.

With all the excitement, (or shitty defense I call it) that occurred in the 1st period, the 2nd period had a lot of hype to try and live up to. For the most part the play was pretty tame throughout the period. The Hawks were given a break by a quick whistle by the refs on a Preds 2 on 1 in which Crawford never had control of the rebound. That being said, later in the period, the Hawks had to kill off a ticky tack tripping penalty to Richards, so you see, it goes both ways. As the horn sounded the score was still tied at three, with the Hawks outshooting the Preds 12-7 in the period.

Continuing with the trend of the rest of the game, the third period took on a personality of its own. The Blackhawks flat out dominated play as the period went on. Two players that stuck out the most were Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. Both players had ample opportunities to create scoring chances throughout the period. The Hawks were almost given a gift when Rinne had a blowout while playing the puck behind the net, but Hossa couldn't finish the chance. Midway through the third, the Hawks had a power play chance, but eventhough they didn't score, they kept the Preds on their heels and some of the momentum they generated. Then with just under 5 minutes to go in the third, Duncan Keith let an absolute bomb go from the point, combined with a screen from Hossa, beat Rinne to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead. Despite a flurry of chances by the Preds in the final minute, the Hawks were able to hang on for the 4-3 win, and eliminate the Nashville Predators 4 games to 2.

The Good
- The goaltending change that Quenneville made in the first period, worked to perfection, just like it did in Game 1. Now I will admit I was wrong in saying you should ride Scott Darling, but making a switch under these circumstances was needed. Its hard to say now that you give the net back to Darling, hell that is meatball talk. Like I said I was wrong, about the goalie situation, but I will stand by my opinion of rotating goalies is not a good idea. Pick a guy now, and stick with it.
- The third period effort by Saad and Hossa was beyond ridiculous. It was quite apparent they had no plans about traveling back to Nashville for a Game 7.
- The Blackhawks, much like in Game 2, should be commended for pulling themselves together, and being able to grind out a win. This is exactly what the "spark" is when you make a change when the team is playing like shit.
- Corey Crawford made 13 saves in relief of Darling, and credit to Crawford for being ready to go if called upon. It also helps when the defense tightens up, to level of play we know they can play to.
- Duncan Keith was awful in the first ten minutes of the game. It pisses me off on how quick people are to blame Rozsival for everything, but when Keith screws up they turn their head because he is a chosen one. Regardless, Keith was able to bounce back and have a strong end to the game, and wound up scoring the game winning goal. That shows the amount of leadership he has in never thinking the game is over.

The Bad
- At one point the Hawks were completely dominating the Predators at the face off dot, but ended the game tied at 34 a piece. Its tough to see the drop off of that much during a game, but its something that shouldn't be ignored.
- The "hits are meaningless" talk is annoying. I know the Hawks were outhit 53-36, and still won the game, but the Predators first goal was the direct result of a hit causing a turnover. They're not meaningless, they have an impact on the game. For a generation that is so caught up in advanced stats, I'm shocked they would ignore the hits stat.
- I'm normally one who backs the officials, but tonight there were some questionable penalties with the Richards trip and Bartley hooking calls. Did I even mention the quick whistle when Crawford didn't even have the puck?

The Ugly
- What the fuck was the first 11 minutes of the game? That was a complete shitshow. I'm not apologizing for Darling, but he was hung out to dry. Yes, he allowed 3 goals, but he also faced 12 shots, in the first 11 minutes. That is a complete tire fire of defense.
- Kimmo Timonen looks every bit of a 40 year old defenseman. That was a steep price Bowman paid for this past his prime defenseman. He took a lazy holding penalty 7 minutes in, and to no surprise, the Predators scored on the power play.


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