Here are five observations from the Blackhawks 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Blackhawks top line played quite possibly its best game of the series so far. Marian Hossa looked like a man on a mission in the first period, generating numerous chances, including a nifty play on a Blackhawk penalty kill. Hossa did let his emotions get the best of him late in the first when he took a bad penalty against former Hawk Viktor Stahlberg.
Jonathan Toews put Chicago up 2-1 at the start of the 2nd period; he also picked up an assist on Brent Seabrook’s goal later on in the 2nd period. Not to be outdone, the third member of the Hawks top line, Brandon Saad, broke the 2-2 tie in the 2nd period with his first goal of the postseason so far.
The Hawks’ top line produced 2 goals and 3 assists.
— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) April 19, 2015
Coach Joel Queneville made a bold move coming into Game 3, benching Teuvo Teravainen in favor of Andrew Dejardins. It was a move that was met with quite an outcry from the Chicago faithful, who felt benching Teuvo was counterproductive to the Hawks’ lack of scoring.
Dejardins quickly quieted that outcry when he scored the game’s first goal six minutes in. It wasn’t just his goal that would make people take notice, as he created numerous chances in the 2nd period. While Teuvo may be a fan favorite, it was clear the Dejardins added a new element to the team and may be the better play for this team right now.
The Chicago Blackhawks attacked Nashville Goaltender Pekka Rinne from all angles but had the most success going low and exposing his five-hole. The Hawks shooters made sure to avoid Rinne’s glove hand, arguably the best in the league, and went high stick side or low.
Three of the four Hawk goals were scored on Rinne’s low side, with two going through his legs. Chicago also had a goal waved off after the whistle was blown that also went five-hole.
It may have just been an off game for Rinne but look for Chicago to keep going low in the next few games.
Something Chicago was known for in each of their previous Stanley Cup wins was the offensive depth along all four lines. In fact, the only line that looked to struggle for stretches was the second line that features Kris Versteeg, Brad Richards, and Patrick Kane.
With Antoine Vermette back in the lineup, Chicago now has four lines with a capable Center and it also frees up Andrew Shaw to switch back to the wing, where he looks more comfortable. Expect the same lineup out there for Game 4.
Chicago had a golden chance to capitalize on Nashville’s injuries and they did just that. With Nashville captain Shea Weber hurt and not traveling with the team, the Predator defense just looked a bit off in today’s game. Defenseman Roman Josi was on the ice for three of the four goals and was constantly caught out of position.
We know that Weber will be out for Game 4 as well, so it will be interesting to see what Nashville does to compensate going forward. For now, it is clearly a weakness that Chicago will continue to expose.