It's official after a seven year drought the Blackhawks are going back to the playoffs, after beating Nashville 3-to-1, the focus now that they are in must turn to finishing strong. The Hawks currently sit 4th just a point ahead of the Calgary Flames and that's exactly where they would like to end the season.
The reason Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks like Calgary as the potential matchup is that they Hawks have played the Flames tough all year and control the season series. Then combine seven years of waiting into a home ice series with the fact the Hawks believe the Flames do not have the team speed to really stay with the Blackhawks and throw in the fact they are known to take a few too many penalties; and the Blackhawks believe they can close them out.
The Blackhawks got the better goaltending in this game and that was the real difference as otherwise it was a fairly closely played affair. Nikolai Khabibulin had his second strong outing in a row and looked one hundred percent healthy and will be the number one heading into the playoff run. He was particularly good on scramble and second chances with three saves on plays where the Predators had him down but couldn't put it past him.
Just furthuring my theory of the Hawks with a lead, they tallied the first goal off of a terrific feed by Andrew Ladd who found Sami Pahlsson in the slot and never looked back. The Blackhawks did a lot of the little things right to keep the lead: winning a lions share of the faceoff's, possesing the puck longer and only took one penalty.
It's this type of discipline that it takes to win playoff games, hopefully the Hawks stay on this track.
Jonathan Toews – Taser is becoming the true leader the Blackhawks had hoped he would when awarding him the captaincy and is developing a Holmstrom like quality in front of the net.
Nikolai Khabibulin – Khabby shut the door, faced 26 shots allowed just the one goal and was the biggest factor difference in the outcome.
Niklas Hjalmarsson – quietly becoming a NHL defenseman, makes the right play so often it seems effortless great hockey sense to move the puck
Patrick Kane – Kaner got an assisit in this one, missed a great chance maybe I am holding him to to high a standard? maybe not? I just feel like he could be doing more
Matt Walker – Matt plays with such determination he is the type of player you want to go into the corners for you because he will win the puck; the problem is he has problems handling it to tough turnovers today
They Said it
“It was exciting at the end,” Toews said. “The crowd was going and it was exciting to them, but it means even more to us. We didn't want to wait for Sunday or anything later.”
“Our goal is to get into and stay in that fourth spot,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
- Sami Pahlsson may just payoff – which is a direct contradiction to what I have said in recent posts I know so “Sorry Dale Tallon” for the things I called you under my breath.
- Joel Quenneville should set up like a shooting range style obstacle course for Matt Walker and teach him where it is ok and where not to move the puck.
- Seven Years, 364 Weeks, 2555 Days and we are FINALLY back to where we belong!
About the Author
Written by Terry Shilton