If it’s playoff time, it’s time for Jonathan Toews to shine. The Blackhawks star proved that yet again Sunday in Game 3 of his team’s first-round series against Nashville, scoring Chicago’s second goal of the day and chipping in a dandy of a first assist to put the Hawks up 4-2.
With the teams tied at one game apiece in the series and the Game 3 score tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play at Chicago’s United Center, Toews came out and scored just 36 seconds into the second period on a wicked wrist shot that beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne: Read more
The Nashville Predators won’t be celebrating too loudly following their 6-2 win over Chicago.
Nashville lit the lamp six times on Corey Crawford but lost captain Shea Weber to injury in a costly but convincing Game 2 win against the Blackhawks.
Weber went down with an apparent ankle injury in the second period after taking a hit from Brandon Saad, whose skate appeared to clip Weber’s ankle. Weber left the game immediately and did not return.
If you’ve just lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs or if you’re annoyed at the header of this article, you’re likely thinking, “Sheesh, it’s one game, this is not news, mountain out of a molehill,” etc. And you’d be right in certain cases. You’d be wrong in others, however. No two series are created equal, and some Game 1 defeats were more alarming than others.
Here’s a brief rundown of the Game 1 losers, ranked from most justified in panicking to least.
It’s not exactly Evan Longoria-like, but if you can come up with a player with less NHL experience who has ever signed a longer, more lucrative contract than John Klingberg has with the Dallas Stars, let us know.
Because we certainly can’t come up with one. After just 65 games in the best league in the world and only 13 in the American League prior to that, and coming off double hip surgery last summer, Klingberg signed a seven-year deal with the Stars worth $29.75 million. It’s a contract that will take him and the Stars through the 2021-22 season. (Longoria, the superstar third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, agreed to a six-year contract extension in 2008 worth $17.5 million just six games into his major league career, a deal that has since been extended.) Read more
If the Nashville Predators are going to even up their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re going to have to need short memories because otherwise this loss could stick with them for a while.
After Nashville took a 3-0 lead in the first period on two goals by Colin Wilson and one by Viktor Stalberg, Chicago dominated for long stretches of the second period, vanquished their three-goal deficit and headed into the third period with the score tied. And while Duncan Keith’s game-winning goal will go down as the shot that ultimately won the game in double overtime, it was the play of rookie goaltender Scott Darling that was truly the story. Read more
Heading into the post-season, the Chicago Blackhawks were struggling, but goaltender Corey Crawford was playing some of the best hockey of his career. Crawford is going to want to forget the first period of the opening game between his Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, however.
With Nashville taking the play to Chicago early in the first and jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to a Colin Wilson goal, the Predators added to their lead thanks to a massive misplay by Crawford. As the puck came around the boards into the Blackhawks’ zone, Crawford went out to play the puck but, due to the trapezoid that limits goaltenders ability to get involved in the play, he had to wait for the puck to arrive.
When the puck met Crawford, he had it poked from his stick by Nashville winger Calle Jarnkrok. Predators’ winger Viktor Stalberg was waiting on the other side of the net, scooped up the puck and tucked it into the wide-open net. Check it out below: Read more
HOW THEY WIN
PREDATORS: Replacing coach Barry Trotz with Peter Laviolette transformed Nashville from a counterstriker into an attacking team. The result was the Preds’ best goal production in four years. They lack a superstar up front, but rookie Filip Forsberg has flashed that kind of ability. The rest of Nashville’s forwards provide offense by committee. A more aggressive approach has made Nashville a better possession team and thus better defensively, as opponents can’t score without the puck. The Preds are relatively faceless up front, but it’s the opposite from the net out. Goalie Pekka Rinne bounced back from his 2013-14 hip problems with a stellar year. Nashville’s greatest strength: its blueline, led by superstar Shea Weber, who does everything well. Partner Roman Josi remains a secret stud. Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Cody Franson and Mattias Ekholm round out a versatile top six that oozes puck-moving ability.
BLACKHAWKS: The uber-experienced Blackhawks are loaded with multi-championship players, from Jonathan Toews to Marian Hossa, and the majority of their 2013 Stanley Cup roster is intact. They don’t panic under pressure, as they showed last year rallying from a 2-0 series deficit in the first round to knock out St. Louis. Chicago keeps teams off the scoresheet so well because its deep D-corps, led by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, pushes play toward the other team’s net. The Hawks crack the NHL’s top three in Corsi Close a third straight season. Goaltender Corey Crawford only has to be good and not great. The Hawks score a lot at even strength because of their tremendous depth. One of Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards is the third-line center for the playoffs. Coach Joel Quenneville can deploy championship-caliber checkers Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger as low as the fourth line. Read more
The start of the NHL playoffs means it’s time for subterfuge and/or the vaguest of terms to describe players’ injuries – and the playing status of any roster member, for that matter – so take anything you see below with a salt grain or two. But a number of NHLers were rumored Tuesday to be questionable for the start of their team’s first-round series – and not just because of injury. Read more