Photo: Chicago Blackhawks Facebook
You know Goaltender Pekka Rinne had two straight shutouts against the veteran and rising stars of the Blackhawks. You know Chicago’s answer to a 1-0 loss was an unenthusiastic 5-0 loss. The heroes in red looked liked a high school team that would rather be at prom.
Rinne made 30 saves (and earned two assists) and the Predators blocked an additional 15 shots. That’s 11 fewer than the previous game.
Corey Crawford made 24 of 29 saves and the Hawks blocked 21 shots.
It looked like this:
Now, giving credit where it’s due, Rinne has been exceptional.
Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville told media:
“He has been getting a lot of pucks, and getting on the forecheck has been challenging. So I think our puck placement, sometimes you want to think about getting it on the glass or keeping it away from him. But let’s make sure he’s not as effective.”
It’s hard to miss the Blackhawks’ utter lack of…everything. Coaching decisions were questionable. They couldn’t hit basic passes. They were having pucks stolen left and right and in the middle.
Everything they said they’d do after their first loss, they didn’t. For their dump and chase, they did not chase. Putting pressure on the crease? Aside from an early screen attempt by Artem Anisimov (isn’t that what Ryan Hartman is for?), the only thing obstructing Rinne’s view was a wall of his fellow teammates. Gritty goals? They still played keepaway in the offensive zone, and they didn’t do so well keeping the puck away from the Preds.
So what do the Blackhawks do now?
Winger Patrick Kane rightfully said it’s about shots.
“I think the biggest thing is having good shot selection. Sometimes throughout the first two games maybe we got those chances to shoot the puck, maybe it’s not the right time or you’ve got to find the right lane. It seems like a lot of their defensemen step in front of pucks, where they’re not just sitting back and trying to block it.”
Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk mentioned helping his goalie:
“Maybe try a little deception or try to change the lane a little bit. It’s just about doing things quicker and being prepared for that, knowing they’re going to come at you hard and to be ready in your mind to make a play accordingly.”
As for Game Twos, they’ve only lost the first two games three times of the 22: 2009 versus Detroit, who lost to the Penguins in the Final; 2011 versus Vancouver, who lost to the Bruins in the Final; and 2014 against the Blues, when the Blackhawks won the next four straight and ultimately lost to the Kings in the Final.
This doesn’t give much room for hope.
But Captain Jonathan Toews isn’t ready to give up.
“For us, it’s getting back to that desperate energy, the scratching-and-clawing, whatever-it-takes type of hockey.”
Today is a new day. And, the Blackhawks will have to treat it that way.
Because it’s the Cup.
- Blackhawks at Predators 7:00 p.m. C.T., Thursday, April 20, on SN 360, TVA Sports
- If needed
- Blackhawks vs. Predators, TBD, Saturday, April 22, TBD
- Blackhawks at Predators, TBD, Monday, April 24, TBD
- Blackhawks vs. Predators, TBD, Wednesday, Aptil 26, TBD