1. Protect the puck in your end.
I think the Chicago Blackhawks have underestimated the speed with which the Nashville Predators forecheck. They come fast and hard, and usually in twos, and they really try to force you into bad passes and turnovers. Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Craig Smith and Viktor Stalberg have better than average speed and they hunt the puck very well in the offensive zone. As a result, the Hawks are spending too much time in their own zone, and playing D inside your own blue line is a lot more taxing than playing offense in the other teams end. Get back with speed and make sure that first pass is tape to tape.
2. Support for Darling.
The Blackhawks have had two first periods in the playoffs so far that they’d like to forget. They have been outscored 5-1 in this frame, and have had to chase the game as a result. This isn’t the kind of pressure you want to put on a rookie goalie who is getting his first ever NHL postseason start. I know Scott Darling had a “game for the ages” in relief of Corey Crawford last Wednesday night, but it’s a different animal altogether when you’ve had 24 hours notice on knowing that you’re the starter. Limit shots and chances on the big guy, and let him ease his way into the game.
3. Take advantage of a hole in their D.
The Predators will be without their captain and all around best player with Shea Weber out of the lineup today and maybe beyond. Always among the top-5 in the NHL for time on ice, Weber is the kind of player that can hurt you in a lot of different ways. The Preds played well without Weber when he was lost half way through the game on Friday, but playing without him for a full game should be a little different. Their power play will have a different feel without the threat of one of the hardest and heaviest shots in the NHL.