Heading into the first-round of the post-season, there were a number of matchups that were of the too-close-to-call variety. It's what great teams do - and it would say at lot about these Predators if they could do likewise. We have to play our way, the way we've played all season.
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It may be hard to wrap around your brain, but the Blackhawks are far from dead in the water and here are five reasons that the Blackhawks cannot only get back into this series against the Predators, but eliminate them and advance to the next round. It's the second time the franchise has been shut out in the first two games in a playoff series. What showed promise as one of the NHL's most gripping first-round matchups between two of its top four teams has been surprisingly one-sided through two games. Chicago has the both the talent and experience to come back in this series; would anyone be surprised if they won four straight?
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: With Chicago going almost 14 minutes without a shot on goal in the first period of Game 1, rookie Nick Schmaltz found himself on the bench for a brief time - a move that could translate into Game 2. And given the way the rest of the series has played out to this point it's not like a different goaltender would have made much of a difference because they literally lost a game where he only gave up one goal. And now, across the seven times the two teams have met this campaign, there's not a single major advanced statistical category in which the Blackhawks have the edge.
But Toews and Kane have combined for two goals over their past 27 combined appearances in the playoffs. The assist would be credited to Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi.
The team has only managed 59 shots on goal in the two games of the series, and while that fits in line with their average of just over 30 shots on goal per game during the regular season, the fact remains that the Blackhawks are not getting scoring chances from unsafe areas of the ice, and they're making life way too easy on Pekka Rinne by not getting traffic to the front of the net. In between, the Predators' defensive game frustrated the Blackhawks, with Rinne neatly cleaning up any messes left over. They exposed Chicago's defense and chased Corey Crawford from the series. The veteran defensemen looked a step slow.
And that brings us back to Rinne. The fact is, though, that the two netminders were about as evenly matched as could be coming into the best-of-seven. The Blackhawks are averaging 2.9 goals per game and are scoring on 18 percent of their power play opportunities. That's part of the game. The Hawks also had multiple point-blank chances that Rinne gobbled up. Especially after just one truly bad game in the series.
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But before we get to game three, check out the awesome photos from the Predators' big win on Saturday night. Nashville has been out-chancing Chicago and finishing when it matters.
The Hawks, the top seed in the Western conference, seemed determined to remedy their shutout from Game 1 early on Saturday and came out buzzing around the ice. But it's not just the main threats who are providing. In Game 2, it was a complete systematic breakdown by pretty much everyone in a red jersey. The Predators got some secondary scoring in game two to take the pressure off the Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson line.
One would be remiss to write the Blackhawks off yet. The Blackhawks ride or die with their superstars. If it swings the opposite direction, the Predators could possibly find themselves in a familiar situation they saw exactly 12 months ago.
Jake Guentzel might not have been a household name prior to the postseason, but hockey fans know who he is now after he recorded a hat trick in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 5-4 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in a thrilling Game 3.
And if Nashville keeps it up, the third time stands to be the charm when it comes to first-round meetings with Chicago.
The Blackhawks emphatic use of "Chelsea Dagger" may be the most iconic goal song in the National Hockey League.