Smash and Grab – Game 2 – Hawks at Predators Preview, Pregame Thread, Surprise Party

oldschool at predator

Game Time: 8:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, NBCSN (US), SN360 (Canada), WGN-AM 720
God, Country, and Apple Pie: On The Forecheck

After their fourth straight overtime game to open up a playoff year, the Hawks are once again back at it in Music City tonight with a late start that should in no way lead to booze fueled agitation in the stands that Predators management has not fomented at all. But more importantly, while the Hawks emerged from Game 1’s mini-marathon victorious, tonight presents an opportunity to put a vice grip on the series before it even gets back to the west side.

There are two schools of thought that the Predators can adhere to after Wednesday night’s 54 shot, blown-three-goal-lead double overtime loss. The first is that game 1 was the Preds best punch and it was absorbed and summarily laughed at and has now put them behind the 8-ball very early in the series. The other is that they were able to jump on the Hawks playing their own game and able to pepper both Hawk goalies, and it took a historically excellent relief appearance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Because Peter Laviolette might be a penis but isn’t a moron, he’s no doubt hammering home the latter to his squad.

One way or the other, the Preds will have to do so without Mike Fisher in full tonight, who left game 1 early in the second after only five minutes of ice time with a lower body injury.  In his absence, Matt Cullen will slot up between Neal and Wilson, and either Santorelli or Kevin Fiala will get the spot vacated by Cullen on the third. The money is on pre-deadline acquisition Santorelli getting a go at wing with Calle Jarnkrok sliding over to the middle. Santorelli is a quick little shit with decent hands, so he adds another scoring dimension to the Preds forward corps. Jarnkrok was only 46.2% at the dot for the season, taking 600+ draws, which is a precipitous drop from Fisher’s career 50+%, and he’ll have little help from Santorelli and Stalberg on that line unless Lavvy wants to spot Gaustad simply for the purpose of taking a draw and getting off the ice once play is out of danger. Though with Gaustad, it’s always the “out of danger” part that’s the issue.

On defense, it appears that Santorelli’s trade-mate (is that even a thing) from Toronto Cody Franson will get back into the lineup after a surprise scratch in favor of Russian obelisk Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov was one of only six Preds in the black in terms of possession at a modest +2 CF, but his lack of foot speed can be a hinderance against the Hawk forwards, even at home where Laviolette can get him where he wants him. But Franson has been the Preds’ possession leader on the blue line since his arrival at 57%, and there really is no reason why Volchenkov should be considered over him in the least. When Franson has been in the lineup, Ekholm jumps up with Seth Jones and Franson joins Ryan Ellis to form a very dynamic third pairing. Shea Weber and Roman Josi will obviously remain together with similar assignments. This will all take place in front of Pekka Rinne, whom no one is questioning if he has pictures on Laviolette as a reason for keeping his job after giving up 3 goals in a period, with a three goal lead no less. Rinne did not look comfortable at any point in the game on Wednesday, and he’ll need to control his rebounds much better if the Preds want to get back into this series.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, the general consensus seems to be that the Hawks stole game one on the road, needing a record breaking performance from LOCAL KID Scott Darling to take it. But while the latter might be true to a certain extent, the underlying numbers show a Hawks team that carried the play all night long even in spite of the 54 shots Nashville put up in 90 minutes. The Hawks carried 55% of the attempts at evens, but the shot differential was as a result of getting 24 shots blocked to the Preds 13. The debate then moves to the elusive “shot quality” component of things, but a glance at the plotting of where those shots came from shows that the Hawks attempted 24 shots on net and put 14 on Rinne from the “home plate” ideal scoring area (courtesy War on Ice) to the Preds 19 and 11 respectively. So while they may have put themselves in a tight spot and hung Corey Crawford out to dry in the first period, the Hawks more than deserved to win that game.

Speaking of Corey Crawford, of course he is getting the start tonight, despite the hew and cry from those bathing in the aroma of their own giardinera farts. It’s been discussed ad nauseum but it bears repeating one last time – one period does not undo a Jennings Trophy winning, .924 save percentage full season body of work. Scott Darling gave the Hawks what they needed, both as a wake up call and as a backstop, but it’s still Crawford’s cage. That being said, both he and the defensemen in front of him had better tighten things up if the deep run they expect of themselves is going to happen.

Joel Quenneville has not indicated any lineup changes for this evening, so that once again means a heaping helping of zombie flesh from Michal Rozsival. As the game wore on, Q’s usage of Kimmo and Roszival grew more and more sparse as can be expected. Without last change at Bridgestone it makes a slight bit of sense to continue to adhere to the babysitter pairing template until crunch time, and then load up once they’re back at home and give sheltered zone starts to 44 and 32.

Fisher being unavailable is a huge deal for the Preds, as there’s not really a matchup Laviolette can get among his centers that can hope to at least play the Toews line to a standstill. The Gaustad-Bourque-Beck line saw the most time against them at evens after Fisher’s injury, and to the surprise of no one Bourque and Beck were a team worst in possession. So it will be curious to see who Laviolette chooses they get tonight.

The Hawks have not won two straight on the road since games 4 and 6 against Boston in 2013, and they haven’t taken both road games of the opening four since 2010 in San Jose. The Predators will be desperate tonight given their road record during the season (19-16-6, worst among playoff teams in the West) so look for yet another early push from them in hopes that history won’t repeat itself so soon. If the Hawks can keep their breakouts under control as they did in Game 1 and Corey Crawford can shake off his early exit, the Hawks should get enough favorable matchups with the Nashville forwards to make it hurt. Seize this opportunity. Let’s go Hawks.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “Without last change at Bridgestone it makes a slight bit of sense to continue to adhere to the babysitter pairing template until crunch time, and then load up once they’re back at home and give sheltered zone starts to 44 and 32.”

    Really hoping this is the case.

  • The Hull With It

    Let’s try to be grownups and not blame Roszi for every mistake. He’s slow. He’s past his prime. That’s not his fault. It’s the best he can do. The coach is choosing to go with this. That is who you get mad at.

    I have NO RESPECT for the war on ice craptistics. Find me someone who watched the game and thought the preds did not dominate us 5 on 5. I’m talking time of possession inside the opponents blue line. We barely could keep the puck in more than a few seconds. Our shots were weak, or thru traffic. (At least the proprietors here noticed the shot blocks thru their beer goggles.)

    We beat the preds because of 4 on 4 dominance and the power play.

    • If you have no respect for CRAPTISTICS, why are you even here?

      • anthony

        Mt. Mclure, please write your next preview based on your feelings. I care a lot about feelings. Stats are so factual, I can find them anywhere. Feelings and unsubstantiated writing is what we need more of in the blackhawks community. How are we supposed to irrationally disseminate the game if you use so many statistics?

        • WookRN

          Did Colbert teach you NOTHING about journalism. No one needs facts. You need to go with your gut. You may not be right, but your gut won’t care.

    • rhodes

      Well, if you take away the score and the stats and just go be FEELZ…. IMO, the Hawks lost the 1st (just barely—I thought they started stronger than the Preds, but finished poorly), won the 2nd by a large margin, tied the 3rd, lost the 1st OT, and won the 2nd OT short as it was. So, slight advantage Hawks.

      I should start a web site with this kind of analysis. Maybe there’s a niche.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Preds dominated most of the game, the exception being most of the second and the first few minutes of the third. They were so dominant in OT, I was shocked that we survived to 2OT.

    • shinkicker

      man, you can even smell the giardinera through the screen

      • meme gene okerlund

        the hull burner account is a nice touch too

  • rhodes

    “…despite the hew and cry from those bathing in the aroma of their own giardinera farts.”

    Hey, don’t paint with such a broad brush.

    • Jim

      That line kind of hurt, and hit home, since I had extra giardinera on my Subway for lunch. For the record I did not fart, and I did not root for the Chicago Native to start tonight.

  • TitanTransistor

    Glad Crawford is back in.

    Hopefully Q learned his lesson as far as playing Rozsival on the top pair.

    • WookRN

      I’d like to say, “I’m hoping the team does a better job helping Crow”, but seriously, two of those goals had Rosie in the close up of the replay. It wasn’t the whole team as much.

  • Edit: UPON FURTHER REVIEW, the Hawks won consecutive road games both in games 4 and 6 against Boston, and 2 and 5 against Phoenix. So much for basing analysis on FACTS.

    • The Hull With It

      How long will you belly ache because one person didn’t agree with you?

      Time of possession would be the right fact. Shot attempts is a poor proxy. When 42 kicked the puck 5 mph, it happened to go toward the net. That was a shot attempt from a high value area, even tho Rinne’s dead grandma would have stopped it. So, yes, those stats are crap.

      • You bring nothing and I have no problem banning you because I feel like it.

        • Hull With It

          Obviously I’ve won the argument. Thanks for admitting it.

        • Sopel the catfish

          I think this is what you were looking for

      • WookRN

        One bad example doesn’t unmake the set. That will come out in the wash. And if TOP were that important, people would watch it, since it’s easy to track, but holding the puck in your D zone counts as possession, but you aren’t scoring from there.
        We all know you have to shoot to win, and CORSI is a very good metric to compare to winning.

        • But…but…but NHL12 on PS3 keeps track of TOP. Doesn’t that make it more important?!?

          • Sopel the catfish

            Dude, the total rushing yards is way more important, it’s a better indicator of the the TOP will actually be.

          • WookRN

            Damn. You’re probably right.

  • BrentSopel5

    I’m confused as to why McClure is always a dick to his readers in the comment section. Has this been addressed and I missed it?

    • BrandonPirri

      It’s been a thing for a really long time. Can’t quite say why though. He’s probably insecure.

      • BrentSopel5

        The whole “I’ll ban you because I can” thing is embarrassingly lame and insecure.

        • Sopel the catfish

          I like how you upvote your own posts, and I can’t speak to all instances but for the posts earlier that troll was going to get it sooner or later.

          • BrentSopel5

            I upvoted my own posts? This is my first time posting as I’m a lurker so I’m not sure what that means or how that works.

          • Sopel the catfish

            The up and down carats/arrows to the left of the reply button, when you want to like or agree with someone’s post you click on them.

          • BrentSopel5

            Cool… Does it indicate when someone upvotes themselves? Weird that you’re even given that opportunity.

          • Sopel the catfish

            Yea, when people vote it adds up to the number that is to the left of the carats, if you mouse over it the names will show. Although sometimes because disqus is disqus, you have to refresh to see the names if you were in the thread while the votes occured.

    • CitizenKaner

      It was addressed indirectly when Sam sided with McClure during his “you’re all just page views to me” phase. I don’t understand why anyone puts up with the childish tantrums tbh

    • rhodes

      I’ve been a fairly long time reader of the blog and comment section. The assessment “always a dick to his readers” is unfair. McClure has little patience with commenters who are overly condescending (like The Hull With It’s “Let’s try to be grownups” comment) and are unnecessarily abusive (like The Hull With It’s suggestion that the writers are drunks) on a regular basis.

      Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. If I did, I’d simply find another blog to read.

      • Sopel the catfish

        I concur, except with your example about the drunks (all of that guys posts were just troll posts anyways). We all pretty much call ourselves on being drunks, albeit highly functioning drunks.

  • I have a weird calmness about tonight’s game. Maybe because we’re playing with house money but I think the Hawks are going to come out get an early one and just play their game. At least I hope they do.

    • ZigZags82

      I agree. I feel a cool calm and collected game coming.

      • jordyhawk

        I don’t know. Historically, we seem to be better at avoiding knockout blows than inflicting them. I would love to see us come right out of the gate and step on their throats tonight. That was one of the things that made Keenan a great coach; he knew exactly how to get that out of his team. The 11 game playoff win steak in ’92 was that to a tee.

      • rhodes

        I hope so. The pressure now is very much on the Preds. If the Hawks lose and come home with the series tied 1-1, this is a victory for the Hawks. If the Preds lose…..

  • TitanTransistor

    I can’t decide if this is trolling, or Q is legitimately this detached from reality. Everything he’s praising is everything Rozsival is objectively terrible at.

    • To Saad be the glory

      Patience,that’s what it is. Glad Q cleared that up. All along I thought he was old and slow with eroding skills. My apologies.

    • seabsrat

      Oh sweet Lord, those were depressing to read.

      • Sopel the catfish

        I like to consider it motivation, gotta keep those 12 oz curls going to keep up my strength.

    • rhodes

      Well, Q values experience, whether there’s skill attached or not.

      • Sopel the catfish

        “He’s been in a lot of situations and made some pretty terrible decisions, I’m confident with his experience he can continue his consistent play and make many more poor decisions.”

        • seabsrat

          Sounds like an Onion article, except it’s totally true.

  • TitanTransistor

    Watching this one at the bar. Last game taught me that I need alcohol to deal with Rozsival in the playoffs. Go Hawks!

  • Aaeismacgychel

    I think the start to this game will be important for the Hawks. Both teams looked tired in Overtime, but Nashville looked particularly exhausted in the 2nd OT. You get the feeling that the Hawks’ biggest advantage might be in the first 5-10 minutes as the Preds might come in a bit lethargic before they get back into the rhythm of play. If the Hawks can jump on them early, the Preds might not have enough in the tank to come back. Hopefully the Hawks can get this done.

  • Pilotefan

    Preds are pooched tonight. Crawford got pulled last game and will go into this evening’s tilt uber motivated. He rebounds (sorry) strong after a loss.
    Shutout methinks.

  • Sopel the catfish

    Caps just took the lead, had been down 2-0 and 3-1, Leddy still trying to impress Q does his best Rosie and gives the puck away. Caps now up 4-3 with 12 minutes left.

    • rhodes

      Watching the game… I noticed that, too. If Leddy had done that under Q, he would have sat the next game.

      • Sopel the catfish


    • rhodes

      The Caps are playing the way I expect the Preds to play tonight. They are letting it all hang out. Down 1 in the series at home, they’re playing with some fear.

  • TomC

    Anyone know where MSNBC will shift Hawks/Preds while Isles/Caps is still going?

    • Sopel the catfish

      Game is on CSN

      • TomC

        Sadly I am not currently in the Chicago area (and even though I have DirecTV’s Center Ice package, they won’t let me watch on CSN. (Eff you, Rupert!)

        • Sopel the catfish

          That sucks 🙁

          • TomC

            Indeed. NBC has 8 zilliion channels, and they usually throw the later game onto one of their extras when this happens, but they haven’t announced it yet. Probably won’t unless Isles tie it up, ’cause apparently puck drop in Nashville isn’t for another 5 min.

            EDIT: Whew, looks like not an issue.

          • Sopel the catfish

            Seems like it’s especially egregious during the post season, but they never start anywhere near the actual “start time” they haven’t even started the anthem karaoke yet.