Following their embarrassing loss to the Nashville Predators, the Chicago Blackhawks have their backs against the wall and are facing a big conundrum when it comes to their goalie. The Hawks may have caught a small break following that loss though, as Nashville has announced that they will be without star defensemen Shea Weber for Games 3 and 4 in Chicago.
Loss of Shea Weber
— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) April 18, 2015
Weber is the Captain of the Predators and could quite possibly be considered the heart and soul of the team. So far in these young playoffs, Weber has accounted for only one point, but what he does bring to the table is his playoff experience. In 45 career playoff games, Weber has scored 10 goals and had 11 assists – really good numbers coming from a blue line player.
The bad news for the Blackhawks is that Nashville seemed to rally around the loss of their star player in Friday’s game, scoring four goals and hold Chicago to only one. Nashville has something that every Blackhawk fan wishes their team had at the moment – defensive depth.
In Weber’s absence, Nashville will lean on Norris Contender Roman Josi, along with young up-and-coming players Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm.
Chicago will need to take advantage of the lack of playoff experience that these three players have (a combined 14 career games) and pounce early on Nashville.
Shea Weber will not travel to Chicago. Mike Fisher is still day-to-day, but is on the trip. #Blackhawks
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 18, 2015
Nashville was also dealt another big injury in the beginning of the series when Center Mike Fisher went down in Game 1.
While the loss of Fisher may not be as big as losing Weber, Fisher brings a ton of playoff experience for a young Nashville team. In 98 career playoff games, Fisher has 18 goals and 21 assists, but it is at the face-off dot where Nashville will miss him the most.
In Game 1, Nashville dominated the face-off circle, winning 54 of 88 total face-offs, while Fisher only accounted for two of those wins; his experience was badly missed in Game 2, where Nashville lost the face-off battle 42 to 40.
Chicago needs to seize the opportunity presented to them, regardless of who is between the pipes in Game 3. While they already held the experience factor heading into the series, the loss of Nashville’s seasoned vets makes that gap even bigger.
Darling In Net
Scott Darling will indeed start Game 3. #Blackhawks
— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) April 18, 2015
Coach Joel Quenneville announced that Scott Darling will indeed be in net for tomorrow’s Game 3 in Chicago. Darling stopped 42 consecutive shots in his relief appearance in Game 1 for the struggling Corey Crawford.
Crawford has allowed nine goals in two games in the series so far, while Darling looked like a brick wall in Game 1.
Even with Darling in net, the Chicago defense must play better or a similar result may occur on Sunday. The team played strong in front of Darling in Game 1; in order for him to keep putting up those stellar numbers, Chicago must improve in all facets of the defensive game.
Matthew Bowen has been covering the Chicago Blackhawks for 5+ years. He has covered the team for websites such as ChiCitySports, Bleacher Report and Blackhawksondemand.