Game Time: 2:00PM Central
Smashy Smashy: On The Forecheck
Around the time of Craig Smith’s second goal of the night, the conversation at the bar I was at, as I’m sure it did in many bars and living rooms, turned to “Well who starts Game 3?”. I can’t say I’m shocked to see Q give the nod to Darling. Pulling him in Game 1 was certainly the right move, even as a wake up call to the rest of the skaters. He came on and was excellent. Like many of us, I also agreed with putting Crow right back out there to start Game 2. And after that lackluster performance where the entire team seemed to pack it in early, I’m not really sure there is a right answer on which goalie to start. I would personally lean more on Crawford. He’s shown us multiple times throughout the year that he can bounce back. He can win a game on his own. But the atmosphere in the UC this afternoon is going to be a force to reckon with. If Crow were to give up that first goal there would be no shortage of people calling for his head. Maybe it’s smart to just run with the laregely untested commodity at the moment.
And maybe it’ll still act as a wake up for the rest of the team – since that’s still where the majority of the problem remains.
This game feels like the kind where everything is going to come down to that first goal. The Hawks only lead in this series has been when Keith put that puck in the net during double overtime. Every other advantage has tilted towards Nashville. As always, Nashville is not a team you want to play against from behind. They aren’t as defensively minded as past iterations we’ve seen and been annoyed by but they still aren’t a team that gives up a lot of goals. They’re in the top 10 in GA/G for a reason. What people seem to be forgetting – is Chicago was even better. When the Hawks take a lead into the third period they are perfect.. and it’s damn close to perfection after 20. Get that first goal and the load gets a lot lighter from there on out.
With Shea Weber and Mark Fisher out, this game is as close to a must-have as we can get before you actually start to face elimination. The Predators are awful on the road and even worse without Weber. They’ve still got talented, quick, smart guys on their blue line and Roman Josi and Seth Jones are stepping up their games beautifully but there’s a clear disadvantage the Preds are at now and it’s something that the Hawks have to exploit.
While it’s easy to be worried and freak out about the mess the Hawks left on the ice in Game 2, it’s ought to be just as easy to look on the bright side. Coming home with the series tied is just about all any of us would have asked for before the series actually started. You’re now in possession of home-ice advantage against a team that is weakened by the loss of some key players and already performs worse on the road and hasn’t won a game in Chicago all year. The solutions seems apparent and easily addressed on the Hawks side too. If Q insists on playing Rosi (and he seems to) then shelter the hell out of him. Don’t force Keith to cover for him because it severely limits what Keith can do best. Ideally, we’d see Kimmo and Rundblad playing limited time and only in the right situations. We’d also so Vermette back on the ice and playing at center. Shaw is going be at his best when he’s allowed to crash around on the wing raising hell. It’s not going to be where he’s responsible for taking draws. Those simple changes and having their top players wake up and take charge and the series ought to easily tilt in our favor. Easier said than done though. Repeat the mantra folks – nothing is fucked here. In reality, we ought to think we have the Preds right where we want them. Now execute.
Lets Go Hawks
If you’re going to today’s game make sure to pick up a copy of our gameday program sold outside the UC outside Gates 2 and 3 and on Wood and Damen on the south side of the building. If you’re not going to today’s game, you can get the digital version right here.
And if you happen to be looking for last minute tickets, we can help with that too right here.