NHL: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

The Best Bad Idea We Have – Finishing It Up

So we’re almost through the set up, and then McClure will be along in a bit to get you ready for Game 1. There’s not much more to discuss, but let’s clean up the rest.

Special Teams – This probably should be the big worry for Hawks fans, because the Hawks’ PK hasn’t been very good lately, but luckily the Preds’ power play has fallen off a cliff from previous seasons and ranks 25th in the league. If the Predators don’t get a fair share of power play goals, it’s hard to see how they can consistently win the battle at even-strength at even-strength.

On paper, it should be a good unit though. You know all about Shea Weber’s elephant gun from the point, and no forward is going to be aching to get in front of that. If you cheat out at that too much, you would think Ribeiro would have enough space to find Neal on the other side for one-timers through the slot or Wilson or Smith in front. But it just hasn’t worked out that way.

On the second unit clearly Filip Forsberg is the big threat, making all the plays off the wall. Franson and Jones have big shots as well from the point, and Ellis can be a nifty QB, but it just hasn’t clicked. If the Hawks can merely keep the Preds in the form they’re in with the man-advantage, they can keep this an even-strength contest.

Penalty Kill – Which is good, because we know it’s almost automatic that the Hawks won’t be getting much of an advantage when they’re a man up either. The Preds PK isn’t exactly anything to write home about, ranking 18th in the league. Their biggest problem is that Rinne just hasn’t been as good on the PK, with a .862 SV% in that situation. That’s some 25 points behind Crawford for a frame of reference, and Crow ranked 10th among starters in that category. As we saw in the last game here against the two when Hossa equalized on the PK in the 2nd, if you get Rinne moving side-to-side there are some spots open, even as athletic as he is his hip problems of the past show up in this area. Whatever the Hawks get on the PP will be candy though, mostly due to their own incompetence. But winning the special teams battle would mean only having to keep it even at 5-on-5, which the Hawks should be able to do.


So how does it all shake out? Neither of these teams hit the postseason in near full plumage, and this will be the second year in a row that the Hawks line up against a team that lost six in a row to blow the division closing the season. Last time went all right.

The fears for the Hawks are the PK and the depth of defense that the Predators have. The Preds, even while not winning in the last two weeks, have still kept their shot suppression ways strong. They’ve only given up 30 shots or more three times since March 1st. And the Hawks have had problems scoring when they’re pouring on the shots.

However, even when the Hawks were without Kane, they still were able to put up 35+ on the Kings, Canucks, and Blues (once) before they ran out of fucks to give. They can break through the tightest of defenses, and they did that without Humpty Hump.

While Rinne has gobbled up most of the headlines for the Preds, quite simply he just hasn’t been that good lately. His save-percentage in April was .863. In March it was .914, and that’s while not being asked to perform circus tricks. .914 is not going to get it done in this series, unless Crow goes to three straight Rise Against shows with a Lawrence Arms one thrown in the middle. Is the workload catching up? Either way, Crow hits the playoffs in far better form.

Another big factor is the Predators are going to need Mike Ribeiro to produce, and he’s going to have to do it against Toews some nights. Does anyone see that happening? At home I would have to imagine Laviolette tries to get Mikey Ribs out against Shaw or Richards, but if Kane-Richards-Fuckhead can find anything resembling their magic from earlier in the year, Ribeiro isn’t going to have the puck. We know how it will line up at the United Center.

Unless something unforeseen happens on the Preds’ bottom six, the Hawks have more threat there where all of Bickell, Shaw, hopefully Vermette (seriously, I have to write hopefully?), Sharp, and Kruger have all proven to be playoff performers. Throw in anything the Hawks might get from Teuvo, and they have significantly more threat from there which would see them survive the Colin Wilson/Craig Smith onslaught we know is coming.

My biggest fear, as you can predict, is behind the bench. Q is clearly already overthinking this, and it’s not just the possible scratching of Vermette. There’s really no reason to pair Keith and Hammer and Seabrook and Oduya instead of the usual way that would go, but those four are playing well enough that I don’t think it matters much. What he does with the third pairing on the road is where you get itchy, but that is something the Hawks probably only have to get through for the first 40 minutes before the bench gets shortened.

This feels a lot like last year’s first round, actually. All the games will be close because both defenses and goalies are good enough to keep it that way. But last year’s first round was decided when Toews and Kane decided it was time for that, and the Blues didn’t have anyone to answer outside Tarasenko. Well, the Hawks have Kane and Toews. The Preds don’t.

Hawks in 6.

  • Bob Lanz

    I believe I believe! Just one lil prayer if you believe in that kinda stuff, I don’t, but it can’t hurt so here it goes… please hockey gods do not let Q overthink this. It’s pretty straightforward let the best hockey players play

  • Harry Longwood

    I honestly don’t think Q’s juggling down in the bottom six will matter one way or another. This series will be decided by: 1) how close to 100% Kane is, and; 2) the third defensive pairing play. The former will give the Hawks a legitimate scoring threat beyond the Toews line and might even make Kris Versteeg somewhat tolerable again, while the latter will dictate how fresh Keith, Seabrook, Oduya and Hammer will be for 3rd period crunch time.

    If Kaner can return at even 80% of his pre-injury form, and if Roszival/Timonen/Rundblad can hold water against the Perds’ scrubs, Nashville simply doesn’t have enough talent to overcome the core. Anything from Playoff Bickell is gravy.

    Hawks in 5.

    • Well I think you want Bickell to do well for two reasons:

      1) In all likelihood we’re doing a lot of winning
      2) Need to build up some value for the offseason trade, his value has to be shit now after the regular season

      • The Hull With It

        That goes double for Sharp. He’s obviously hit the wall, and it will be impossible to offload that contract unless he comes up huge in the playoff.s

        • Think you’ll have takers with Sharp regardless, I think the return will be a little better with a good showing. Better in this case being some higher picks but it’s still going to be rather lopsided due to the nature of the trade.

          • WookRN

            I dunno. 16 goals and 43 points would make Sharp a hard sell.
            I’ll be honest, I like the dude. He’s been here for years, I REALLY wish he would just hit a tear and blow a hole through the back of the net for the whole playoffs…

  • Couple of thoughts

    Is it really a shock that Q is going mostly with “his” guys? I mean earlier in the season Block was saying that the prospects needed to be up with the team early to get Q’s trust. Same can be said about midseason acquisitions right? My gut tells me that Vermette is going to get in sooner than later. Unfortunately, it will probably take a loss for that to happen. Eventually Q does cut the shit and gets to what works.

    The D pairs are a mess at the moment. I think your spot on Fels. Get the top two pairs back to their normal selves and then spot Rozy and Timmo in spots throughout the game. Regardless of how much talent the Hawks have up front the consistent sore spot has been with the D.

    There’s a part of me that thinks Bowman gave Q too many toys upfront. In some cases it’s easier to just have fixed set of guys that go every night. Eliminates this head game crap. It’s not without it’s own issues.

    It’s going to be real interesting how this plays out. At the beginning of the year you could make the case (before TVR showed he could hang) that Bowman hamstrung the Hawks. You could also make the case that he corrected most (not all) of those issues and now its up to Q to not screw it up.

    One last thing is that playoffs, obviously, are a different beast. You see the same team night after night and have time to actually dissect their scheme vs. the night to night grind where you don’t really have that luxury. So part of “turning it on” or “flipping the switch” could be just having the time to study and be able to exploit the weaknesses.

    Like I said just thoughts, probably most of them wrong but got to get out some excess energy before tonight.

    • Hags

      I agree that the Vermette thing is going to work itself out, it’s just irritating that Q has to be backed into a corner during a playoff series to do things that make the most sense.

      Also, as far as the D pairs go, one thing I have noticed since Oduya has returned is that he has been moreactive in pushing the offense and getting up the ice. I wonder if Q is splitting it up knowing that Keith and Hjammer will control and drive play against just about everybody, and then using Oduya more in a puck moving role against lesser competition with Seabrook. Not saying that I agree with it, but I’m intrigued. If all doesn’t go well, we know that they can switch back to their normal partners and roles in an instant and not miss a beat.

  • TitanTransistor

    Can’t predict this one. Too many ‘ifs’, from Kane’s post-injury performance, to Q’s management of the roster, to whether or not the likes of Sharp or Bickell can actually start contributing.

  • meme gene okerlund


  • To Saad be the glory

    Kane-Richards-Fuckhead…I actually did laugh out loud at this one,couldn’t agree more.I know it wasn’t intentional,but thanks for a good laugh.

  • To Saad be the glory

    In honour of the playoffs starting,I feel we need to change our in game thread signal to drink from every time Edzo says “Chicago native” to every time Foley and Olcyzk bitch about Stalberg. Also,with all this talk about “playoff Bickell ” and “playoff Shaw”,is their such a thing as “playoff Rozsival”?

    • Sadly, after another 82 games of regular season hockey, “Playoff Rozsival” is older, slower, and substantially more worn out than he was when the season began.

      • To Saad be the glory

        I’ve never understood that,in all seriousness. If Q thinks Rozsival is such a damn good trophy D man ,why in the hell didn’t he rest him more often during the latter stages of the season so he would be “fresh” (we’re talking Rozi here) for the playoffs.

    • Hags

      Eddie took a preemptive shot at Stalberg on air the other night against the Wild. I also caught that he will be on the call for every Comcast game this series with Foley (1, 2, 4 and 5 I believe) so I’m sure there will be plenty of shots taken.

      • To Saad be the glory

        Some of the peeps in the game threads better load up on the liquor lol.

    • Harry Longwood

      Every time Foley mispronounces the word “three” or gives a shout-out to 10-year-old Kelly Sczerski in Hinsdale: waterfall.

      • To Saad be the glory


    • I’d also suggest: (1) any references to Diana Olczyk’s cookies or (2) that goddamned uncomfortable habit Eddie has of commenting on soft serve every time the Comcast cameras pan to children eating ice cream.

    • WookRN

      Torn. Playoff Rosie means a new contract.. but possibly because of winning…

      FUCK. I’ll take the winning anyway.

    • Jim

      Quick question: Does anyone here know where Scott Darling was originally from?

  • jordyhawk

    ESPN had another puff piece on Timonen wanting to end his career by winning the Cup. That’s great and all but BFD. You want to win then pay the price and on our backend the guy that sets the bar as far as that goes is #4. Time to step up and earn it.