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Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks were swept by Nashville Predators with ease. Was this an aberration or portends to come? They only scored three goals in four games while being shut out in two of the games. Some years the puck doesn’t go the way you want. Was this the case?

It is easy to look at the Nashville Predators and assume their making the Stanley Cup finals proves the Blackhawks played a great team, but this is too simple. The Predators were the sixteenth seeded team and clearly were not one of the better teams entering the playoffs. They were tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders for regulation victories with 39. They were five and five their last ten games. There was not much to write about as the Predators entered the playoffs.

Chicago, on the other hand, lost their final four games with two being in overtime and the team was three and seven in their final ten. They couldn’t average two goals per game their final four games, and they held a four and one record against Nashville with two victories in Nashville. On the surface, there wasn’t any reason to believe Chicago would be swept.

The losing streak provides one impetus for their being defeated by Nashville. The ‘hawks were struggling at the end of the year and this lack of energy was carried into the playoffs. When a team dials it back, they sometimes lose their momentum and this appears to be one of those times. They didn’t have any momentum and Pekka Rinne had a great two game start to push back the ‘hawks.

Without seeing the series or videos, it is difficult to show how the Predators were able to neutralize the ‘hawks. One video I did see (Game 1) was on the ‘hawks offensive zone as they were on a powerplay in the second period down 1-0. Every shot by the ‘hawks on Rinne were unscreened with Rinne given time to set up. Patrick Kane, all alone, shooting from the faceoff circle to Rinne’s left had plenty of time to move in if he should choose. Instead, he fired a shot to a well-positioned Rinne who saved it. Toews was briefly trying to screen Rinne, but he did a poor job and was rather ineffective. A second video showing Hossa’s second period shot displayed nothing more than a weak shot that was easily saved by Rinne. In fact, I do not believe Hossa got all of that shot.

Nashville’s goal was a nice goal but more of a luck type that more often than not does not go right. This doesn’t take anything away from the goal, but it is simply something that happens from time to time. For Rinne, he played well but didn’t face many difficult shots. In fact, Chicago shot wide many good scoring chances. The first game validates the fact that Chicago was not ready to play. There was energy, just not the crispness the Blackhawks were used to.

An early goal in game two continue the momentum the Predators had from game one.

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