The Chicago Blackhawks are in what many would consider a do-or-die scenario. Yes, the Blackhawks have made series comebacks, including from down 3-0 in the playoffs. However, the word on the street is that this isn’t the same team. There are players that have departed since then, but most importantly, the Blackhawks haven’t looked the most confident. Their body language has been off, lacking a lot of the energy and pop which won them Stanley Cups.
With the Blackhawks, though, that can all change pretty quickly. All it could take is one complete game for them to wake up and pick up a head of steam. Right now, though, there is no doubt that the Hawks look down and out. For one, the Blackhawks haven’t even scored a goal yet in this series. Zilch, nada.
Rinne has been locked in the zone, playing like a guy who could not only win this series for the Preds, but go on to lead them much deeper than just the first round. All it can take is a hot goaltender to make it happen. Look at the Blues, who are riding Jake Allen to a potential sweep.
Allen struggled to find a rhythm for the majority of the regular season, so it does come as a surprise that he’s playing the way he’s been. To a degree, same with Rinne, but that’s what makes the playoffs so great. Do the Blackhawks have anything left in the tank? I provide my thoughts below, along with our Blackhawks vs. Predators Game 2 pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators Game 3 Pick
Corey Crawford was the reason why Game 1 didn’t get out of hand. Without Crawford playing well in Game 2, the game got out of hand. The Predators poured it on, bashing the Blackhawks in for a 5-0 final score. Nashville didn’t let up, while the Blackhawks looked like they were out of gas.
Depth has been an issue in Game 1 and 2 for the Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp was one of the more underrated pieces of the puzzle for the Blackhawks in the past, but he’s no longer here helping out. Other than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, there isn’t much deep on the Blackhawks’ roster in the way of playmaking. Grinders who can hold their ground? Sure, when they’re not running on fumes.
Toews is flanked by Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik. Fine players, but the thought of either stepping up is hard to fathom at this point. Note that the Blackhawks have now lost six in a row, going back to the regular season. During that stretch, they averaged only 1.1 goals per game. They scored 3 goals once, and that was against the worst defence in the NHL, the Avalanche.
The Predators beat them down mentally and physically in Game 2. I don’t see much changing in Nashville. Unless Toews, Kane, and Crawford play lights out with no mistakes, they’re going to find life tough in Tennessee as well. The public is hammering the Blackhawks, but I just don’t see how a pick on them is justified at this point.
PICK: PREDATORS (-115)