After a thrilling double victory in Game 1, the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Nashville Predators 6-2 Friday night to even the series at 1-1. Here are five observations from the game.
The main story-line heading into the game was who would be between the pipes for Chicago: Jennings Trophy winner Corey Crawford or the man who stopped 42 consecutive shots in a Game 1 relief appearance, Scott Darling?
The choice made by Coach Joel Quenneville was Corey Crawford and he had this to say about the decision:
“He’s our starting goalie,” Quenneville said. “It was kind of a no-brainer. It was probably a tougher situation to pull him out (Wednesday night). He has been our strength all year long. It was one period.”
One period turned into three more rough periods for Crawford as he allowed six goals on 35 shots after allowing three goals on twelve shots in Game 1. At times during Game 2, Crawford had the look of a goalie who had lost not only his own confidence, but the confidence in the players in front of him. While the defense was very shaky at times, Crawford failed to make the big saves when he needed to, putting his team into a big hole early in the third period.
Now Quenneville is faced with another no-brainer decision… start Scott Darling in Game 3.
Chicago’s defense was absolutely horrid in Game 2, constantly letting Nashville get behind them in the offensive zone, which lead to three of the six Predator goals. Once again, Michal Rosizval was at the center of most of the miscues and one has to wonder if his time on the ice is coming to a very near end. Kimmo Timonen was supposed to add depth to the Blackhawks defense but he is showing his age, looking very slow on the ice and also playing sloppy. The lack of depth for Chicago is now cause for concern, as they do not have anyone reliable to fill in for either one of these players. Chicago will be at a disadvantage going forward as they are virtually playing with four defensemen.
The Hawks failed to clear the puck on numerous occasions, resulting on three of six Predator goals. Chicago allowed extra shots over and over again, putting their already-shook goaltender at a big disadvantage. If Chicago has any chance at taking Game 3, they must keep the area in front of the netminder clean and take out any trash that enters that zone.
Coach Q’s Craziness
Coach Q shocked everyone when he sat Antione Vermette in Game 1. Vermette was brought in to help Chicago at the face-off circle and sitting him was a big head scratcher. Many thought this was just one of Coach Q’s “messages”, but when the lines skated at the morning skate, Vermette was once again on the outside looking in. It is now time for Q to realize his mistake and put Vermette in the lineup. If Q wants to keep playing the message game, he should direct it towards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, who have both looked sloppy in both games. In Nordstrom’s place, Andrew Dejardins should get the start – he adds some grit and toughness that Chicago sorely needs on the bottom six.
While Chicago may have been embarrassed in Game 2, they did accomplish the one goal they had going into this series – steal home ice advantage. With their win in Game 1, Chicago flipped the table on Nashville and now the Predators will need to win at least one game in Chicago to win the series. Nashville was successful in “Keeping the Red Out”, but now they must go into the Madhouse on Madison and face a sea of red that will most certainly make it a point to cheer louder than normal during the Anthem.