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Boots & Boys: Predators 1 – Hawks 0 (Preds lead series 1-0)

Box Score

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In the aftermath of this one, and even really during it, I saw a lot of citing of how much time the Hawks had off, combined with not even really trying in the last week, and how bad they are when they get a lot of rest. I don’t know that this is really a viable excuse. After all, the Preds had to keep trying throughout the season and they capped it off by losing to the fucking Jets. But we’ve been down this road with the Hawks before, including against this very team seven years ago. The Hawks are rarely totally sharp in a Game 1 in the first round, and couldn’t save this one tonight even though it was sitting there like a pig on a spit. The Preds almost certainly won’t be so lucky next time.

But we did learn some things tonight.

Given how Laviolette played this one, I guess this is the type of game he wanted. There was a lot of 1-4 from the Preds tonight, with only one forechecker merely hinting at trying to cause anything, his centers parked right between his defensemen, and F2 basically right in front of them. So Lavvy has concluded, at least for one game, he can’t go fire wagon with the Hawks because he doesn’t have near the same firepower. That’s not wrong, but I also don’t think you can beat the Hawks four out of seven by trying to strangle the life out of games. Eventually, they’re going to break through, especially when Pekka Rinne is your goalie.

That said, it’s not like Ol’ Shit Hip had to perform too many miracles tonight. Sure, the Hawks had plenty of extended zone time in the offensive zone, but almost every chance was a point shot, which is clearly what the Preds wanted. If everything leads to TVR trying to pick a corner, you’ve probably done your job. But again, I don’t know that you can trap and collapse your way past the Hawks.

Because the Preds do have a lot of speed up and down the lineup, with whatever amount of finish it might or might not have. They could give the Hawks a lot of headaches on the attack, but tonight just chose not to.

-One drawback was the Hawks let the one line they can’t let score score tonight, as all three forwards decided to reenact the video to “Gotta Get Away” atop the left circle, leaving Forsberg all the time in the world at the opposite one to find Arvidsson. I’m fairly sure the Hawks can live with their top line scoring just once per game, once their big guns go BIG GUNS. It also would help if Keith would take a look around and notice what’s behind him.

-Speaking of Keith, the smarty number will tell you he was dominant tonight, with a 75% share. But given how little the Preds were in attacking, and what was happening on the ice, the Hawks need him to pick it up. Most of their entire structure is built on him standing things up right at the line and turning things around immediately. He didn’t do that tonight, and if the Hawks have to go 200 feet constantly with the forwards doing the heavy lifting, things are going to get a little icky. Still, if he’s putting up anywhere near that kind of number, things should be fine.

-The one player who did look clearly rusty was Anisimov, and there were chances he’s not going to miss next time.

-If rust was a factor, then juggling the lines one period in certainly didn’t help matters much. Ok, Nick Schmaltz has had better nights but putting Working Class Kero with Toews and Panik makes that line too blunt and give it no east-west.

-Speaking of borked shit, while the Hawks shouldn’t need their power play too badly to go where they want to go, what they’re running out there now makes no sense. The top unit is 72-19-88, but having Toews playing the role of “Annette Frontpresence” is just not the best use of him. He can do it, but it’s not what he does best. Throw Anisimov out there and go with four forwards, because if you’re really angling this to get TVR on the second unit you’re drinking paint thinner. It leaves the second unit with Schmaltz-Anisimov-Hossa… and that’s really not much of anything. Have Campbell and Seabrook on the second unit to run things a bit better.

-I wanted to be encouraged by anything from Oduya tonight. I wasn’t.

-Been here before. If you’ll allow me:

Vancouver ’09

Nashville ’10

Vancouver ’10

St. Louis ’14

Anaheim ’15

That’s a list of series the Hawks have won losing Game 1.

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