Well, the Predators certainly forgot to pack that momentum in their carry-on bags from Friday on the way to Chicago because… well, we all saw the outcome of yesterday’s game. Not a complete and utter beat down, but not the heat we hoped to had seen for sure. The two goals Nashville did muster were exciting, to say the least, as they responded almost immediately after Chicago. However, after those two, there were no more follow-ups and the Blackhawks took Game 3 by a score of 4-2.
So what happened? Well, some could argue that the United Center is just a tough atmosphere for any team. Well, yea – it is, but here’s the thing: the Predators have played enough times in that arena that this should no longer be a surprise. Yes, the atmosphere during playoff hockey is a little more… unique, but these guys aren’t fresh off the boat; they know what to generally expect.
Another argument is regarding the absence of pack leaders, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher. The Predators played just fine Friday without Fisher and lit the jet fuel after Weber went out of the game. Though Weber and Fisher play significant roles on the ice, injuries like this are bound to happen and the Predators have adapted well before; unfortunately, unlike regular season, they cannot take their time figuring out a game plan. I was asked yesterday via Twitter on the health condition of Pekka Rinne; surely, he must still be injured. As much as I want to talk myself into believing that is the root cause of his awkward mistakes, it just isn’t. The only discomfort I believe he is in is the frustration of his gaffes. Unfortunately, even the best find themselves in a rut – Chicago resorted to their backup, Scott “sold my soul to the Devil to get out of the SPHL” Darling yesterday because Corey Crawford is way off his game.
No offense to Carter Hutton, but Nashville does not have someone who will all of sudden become the brick wall needed for the playoffs. After his hip surgery last season and his lengthy injury this season, many have questioned Rinne’s performance as it is easiest to blame the goaltender in these situations. However, blame cannot be solely rested upon the shoulders of the net-minder, as it takes other factors (defense) to keep a breakaway from happening in the first place.
Honestly, you could sit there and watch the replay of the game over and over and nitpick every thing that went wrong last night; so easy. The sloppy passes, bad man-to-man coverage, whatnot, but to keep a positive mindset, the First Round is far from over and anything can happen. Now that they have one playoff game under their belts in Chicago, tomorrow shouldn’t come as a shock and they should be a little more level-headed and prepared. There’s a good chance, since he traveled with the team, that Mike Fisher may be back for tomorrow’s game. Not that he’s the saving grace that’ll set everything straight, but Fisher’s authoritarian presence may be the kick in the rear end Nashville needs.
Shout out to Mike Ribeiro and Mattias Ekholm for cracking the “Darling Dam” yesterday and at least keeping the game interesting, to say the least. Now that I think about it, I am sad I forgot to post this photo: