The Hawks had a ton of rookies out there last night. They were missing their top 2 scorers and pretty much their soul in Toews. Frolik was scratched, and Bickell was in. Instead of playing the more solid goaltender, Q decided to go with Crawford. A move that Edzo and Folley referred to as a good one more than twice, and I am not so quick to agree. As Fourfeather pointed out in the last post, you are gonna need at least 3 goals to win with CC in net. Looking down at the other end makes that seem a little tougher as Rinne is on fire, serving as the juice behind the Predators sprint up into the standings.
It was the little things that killed though, as 2 very costly turnovers allowed the Preds to seal the deal early in the game. The little things will be the focus of an opinion peace I have written up that will follow in a day or so. Honestly, the Hawks looked pretty energetic out there. They were the better team in the first period when considering the full 20 minutes of it, and they never gave up on the game after falling into the 2-0 hole. A hole the Predators are pretty good at closing up. There were a couple of big chances for the Hawks in the 1st period, and even later which could have caused a much different outcome, but the Hawks just couldn't convert. Rinne is damn good, and they just have to be better at winning some battles when playing a team like Nashville.
The Hawks basically fell right into the Predators trap of a game. With that lead formed in the first, the Preds got to sit back and play their damn tight system of a game and just watched as the Hawks tried to score goals from the perimeter without any net presence, and Rinne is just too good to allow anything with that weak kind of pressure. The Preds know how to win with their style, they know their limits and the Hawks could learn something from that.
A 3rd period power-play brought the Hawks within striking range when Bolland scored on a pass from Hossa. The play resembled everything we have been hoping for from the PP-unit. Keep it simple, get open in front and use the one-timer. Actually, even though the Hawks were unable to score on either of the next 2 PP's, they looked pretty decent during them and almost evened the score a couple of times. But, when you are given 3 straight opportunities like that with the man-advantage, you have to make the most of it and the Hawks did not. There was sustained pressure in the 3rd, good attempts but nothing ever got passed Rinne as the Predaotrs did their best to keep the Hawks as far from him as possible.
Points on the night:
- Stalberg got some criticism from Folley about not hitting, but I thought it was unwarranted. Stalberg had a good overall game, despite being the reason for the too many men call in the last 2 minutes of play. He had some good looks and was nearly a difference maker.
- Which is more than I can say for Kaner. I hate to do this, and harp on the guy, but this was your time buddy. Sharp and Toews are out and it necessitated stepping up. Hossa understood that and was a machine out there. Oh yeah, in case you missed it, Hossa had another really strong game. And, Bolland continues to rack up points with the big guns out. Glad to see that he gets it.
- Well, turnovers. Yeah, well, there ya go. Huh. Im tired of it, are you? I don't even feel like commenting on it anymore. I tell you, it's the little things that kill and especially when you are playing the Preds. The Predators are really freaking good at playing a simple, tight game, working hard in each and every battle, and then pouncing on their opponent's mistakes. Point and case, this game.
- Result, the Hawks are going to have to be smarter and work harder when the little things are concerned.
- Of course, there was a decent amount of line-juggling from the 2nd period on.
- Crawford ended up making some really big saves later in the game, but it doesn't make-up for his gimme on the first goal. He didn't make the 2 saves when it counted more and has me looking at Q for playing him last night. I can sort of see the reasoning, but what about the reasoning that says Emery earned that start?
- As close as the Hawks came to evening the score last night, they were equally as close to allowing the Predators to blow the game out. The Hawks almost let things get out of control while pressuring for a goal in the 2nd period. This is when Crawford stepped it up. It can't be that if they pressure hard for a goal, they completely forget about their defensive responsibilities.
- I thought the PK looked pretty darn solid.
- I am also going to question the whole Frolik sits and Bickell plays move by Q. Fro might no be scoring, but he gives a hell of a lot more on the ice. This wasn't the game to for it anyway.
- Despite having 5 rookies on the ice, each and every one of them looked good. Kruger made some nice plays, but again, I just see more in Pirri and think he should be the one racking up the ice-time as a 2nd/3rd line center. Not a big deal, just an observation.
- What is your take on Leddy? He was pretty guilty a couple of times last night and it seems like something has to break with that 2nd pairing. As news that the Hawks are looking at bringing Campoli back surfaces, it has me wondering if we might see either Leddy or Hjalmer gone completely or moved down to the 6th pairing. Is Campoli the answer? I did warn against letting him go after also moving Campbell, but I did not see this type of defensive struggle in the cards.
In the end, it would be the Hawks inability to win battles, establish a net presence, break perimeter play and find any second chances on Rinne. Pecka is good, maybe the best in the league when he is on, and you just have to bring more against him. The Predators know this, and they are quite comfortable letting the opposition shoot from the outside where they can block shots and pick up anything near the net. Again, the Hawks could learn a few from them.
The loss shoots the Hawks down to 6th in the conference and 4th in the division. More importantly, the loss at home has me wondering if the Hawks would be able to win a series in the playoffs against any of their division competition.