We’ve Had Enough – Game 5 – Hawks at Predators Preview, Pregame Thread, Cross Examination

oldschool at predator

Game Time: 8:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN+ (Ch. 201), NBCSN, SN360 (Anglo), TVA3 (Franco), WGN-AM 720
Opryland Season Pass: On The Forecheck

After 101 minutes of hockey that spanned Tuesday well into Wednesday, the Hawks are at long last in a position to advance in the post season. And that opportunity presents itself tonight in the form of the Nashville Predators once again at Bridgestone Arena.

In Game 4, the Predators finally got the sterling performance they had been looking for from goalie Pekka Rinne, stopping 45 of 48 shots he faced, good for a .938 for the game and two-thirds. It was the most saves he had been asked to make since stopping 36 against the Rangers on March 2nd, and it still wasn’t enough. Rinne has never looked comfortable this series, stabbing at pucks and not absorbing them cleanly. But he is still fully capable of taking one game on his own, particulary at home, as evidenced by his post to post save in the dying seconds of regulation against Marian Hossa, his most difficult of the series by a wide margin.

By all accounts he’ll still have to do so without captain and top defensemen Shea Weber keeping the oncoming hordes at bay. Weber once again did not participate in the Preds’ morning skate and has not skated at all since being felled mid way through game two. Given that his exact injury remains a mystery, it’s not completely out of the question for Weber to try to Wes Unseld his way through tonight given the stakes, but it would still be surprising. Barring those circumstances, it will once again be Seth Jones with Weber’s usual partner Roman Josi taking the top assignments for Peter Laviolette. Jones has shown that he is already a force to be reckoned with, and after a disastrous game 3, he and Josi have found more of a rhythm together. The Preds have gotten their most consistent push from Cody Franson since he’s re-entered the lineup, so Laviolette will likely be giving him the benefit of some heavily sheltered zone starts with last change at home.

It also remains a mystery whether Mike Fisher will be able to go tonight, as he once again took part in this morning’s practice. Naturally there is misinformation abound, but if Fisher were to go tonight, it would be his first game action in nearly a week, and he’d be charged with keeping pace with the Toews line. Additionally, noted carbuncle Colin Wilson also missed practice this morning, and Laviolette would not divulge further information about why or his probability for the game tonight. But his absence would create yet another sizable hole in the Preds’ forward group.

As for our Men of Four Feathers, as is customary, there are not expected to be any lineup changes from Joel Quenneville following a win. Whether or not that means Kris Versteeg is to remain relegated to fourth line detail with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins remains to be seen. Moving Bickell up alongside Richards and Kane from the third period on through 2+ overtime periods created the push the Hawks needed from that line and ended up manufacturing Brent Seabrook’s deciding goal, so it stands to reason that that’s at least how things will start out tonight. That means Andrew Shaw will be on a wing with Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp. This will be the first time Vermette will be in the lineup in Nashville, and if Mike Fisher is able to play, his usage will be key in keeping the Ribeiro line at bay.

The Hawk blue line figures to remain the same as it has throughout the series, with Keith and Seabrook babysitting their respective elderly partners until the late goings if the game is close. This move paid dividends for the Hawks in Game 4, with only Duncan Keith skating north of 40 minutes for the Hawks with 46, whereas Nashville’s entire top four (Jones, Josi, Ellis, Ekholm) all skated 40 plus. And if they can get another competent performance out of Rozsival tonight on the road, the less Quenneville has to chase matchups and potentially force bad changes. But that’s a huge “if”.

Scott Darling gets the opportunity to be the fourth goaltender in the Quenneville era to win a series tonight, which is somewhat staggering. Darling has obviously been fantastic during bonus hockey, but some of his rebounds coming off his huge pads have been grabber-inducing. To this point the skaters in front of him have collapsed to the slot well enough to keep an average-sized Nashville forward corps from pouncing on them, but keeping them cleaner is obviously ideal.

There has been a lot of concern regarding the workload the Hawks have put Darling (and Crawford previously) through with the number of shots they have given up, but they are well ahead in the actual possession battle, both from game four and in the series as a whole. In all situations the Hawks attempted 105 shots to just 78 for the Predators during game 4, and currently hold a 53.2% share at even strength over all four games. The primary difference has been the amount of shots that Nashville has blocked, whereas the Hawks as a team do not sell out to block any and all shots coming towards the goalie. With both Crawford and Darling, they have two large, technique-based goalies whom they trust to absorb the puck if they can at all see it. But it’s the absorption aspect of things that Darling still needs a little work on.

In their brief playoff history, the Predators are 0-7 when faced with elimination, never once extending a series. Under Joel Quenneville, the Hawks have only lost once in a non-game 7 situation when given the opportunity to end a series, that being Game 5 against Vancouver in 2010 at home. Even if the Preds are able to get Mike Fisher back, his former Senators teammate Antoine Vermette now helps balance the matchups still back towards the Hawks’ favor should Shea Weber remain out. Do not allow this team up off the mat. End it tonight. Let’s go Hawks.

  • Jim

    Is the Chicago Native goalie this year’s John Druce?

    • ZigZags82

      Too early to declare Druce!

      • Jim

        Actually, Desjardins could be if he can get some of his chances into the net.

  • Jim

    Robert Green, 48 Laws of Power

    Law 15

    Crush your Enemy Totally

    All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.


    • ZigZags82

      Awesome, agreed lol!

    • ZigZags82

      Crush all hope tonight.

    • rhodes

      Law 46: Never appear too Perfect

      This is the one Rozsival excels at. Dial it back a bit, Michal!

  • Stockroom Snail

    “Is this a dagger which I see before me,

    The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.”


    • mightymikeD

      Let’s get another quote from “The Scottish Play” in there, my personal favourite Shakespeare line:
      “Be bloody, bold and resolute: laugh to scorn the power of man”

      • Aaeismacgychel

        Or another line that I’m sure was also attributed to Shakespeare:
        Let’s kill these biznitches dead!!!

        • mightymikeD

          I think that one was in one of the “Lost Plays”: specifically “Lovez Labourz Won In 3OT, YEEEEAAAAH”

          • Aaeismacgychel

            “Yeah Nachos, plug a cap in them azzes Hamlet style”

  • TitanTransistor

    Just fucking win.

  • Brandon Murray

    Absolutely no fucking reason to give these Preds any hope. Don’t screw with having to come back to Chicago for game 6. I mean it. It may be 3-1, but this has been a close series & tightly fought. Time for the boys in white to show everyone just how dominant they can be when a trip to the next round is on the line. Hell I’ve got 4 tickets to game 6 and I’m hoping I get an email tonight stating I’ve been refunded because there is no game 6. Only 1 thing I want to see tonight & that’s a handshake line. Doesn’t matter how. No mercy. Last time we were in Nashville it was 2-2 with about 9 left and then they all collectively got diarrhea. Not tonight. Let’s Go Hawks!

  • Sopel the catfish

    If this goes well Nash will get to continue their franchise streak of O’fer (o’fer 7 right now, about to be come o’fer 8)

  • Aaeismacgychel

    I’m pretty happy Vermette finally had a good game from the center position. Based on his previous games at center, I personally thought he was simply a failed project. Granted it takes time to fit in with yuor new team and linemates, but before Game 4, he really was showing little to no signs of being able to keep his head above water. If Game 4 was the turning point in his Hawks’ tenure then I will gladly rescind my comments about this unfortunately being a complete failure as a trade. Right now Versteeg is the only major problem I’m seeing out there. I did think he had a decent Game 1 and that in that game he was a contributor to gertting us back in the game, but his last three games have been absolute bombs. It also makes you understand why Richards was basically thrown out of New York. Richards isn’t necessarily an individual possession driver as he is a driver of “flow” where he helps facilitate his linemates become better possession drivers with great vision and area passes. When you put a walking disaster on his line who for whatever reason can’t even accept a pass or hold onto a puck, you pretty much have taken every benefit Richards gives you and pushed it through the woodchipper. Richards got no help in New York last year and has gotten less than that ince Game 1 out of Versteeg. Speaking of, since Game 3, Richards is starting to look a lot more like the driving force he had been throughout the season. He been dangerous out there and has really done a stellar job backchecking and getting his stick in the way of passing lanes. Give him someone who doesn’t turn the puck over every time it touches him and really good things are going to happen. I’d like to see TT for Versteeg at this point but know it won’t happen, but other than that, I think Q has it about right. I have a feeling Nashville gets this one with their backs against the walls, but if the Hawks can jump on them fast I think Nashville might shatter. They’re a good team, just young. And young teams tend to have longer memories than they should. Own the play early, jump ’em, and let’s get out of here with the win and get some much needed rest for the next round.

  • rhodes

    It would be nice to win this one and then sit back with the popcorn and watch the Blues and Wild beat the shit out of each other three more times.

    • Aaeismacgychel

      With each of those three games going into quintuple overtime…

  • billybee53

    Let’s close the deal tonight – I want to see a handshake line !!!

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Win tonight and get at least three days more rest than your next opponent.