1. Play the speed game.
I really liked the way the Blackhawks started the game on Sunday afternoon. Even though they had to kill a penalty 53 seconds in, they did it with quick feet and quick sticks. Marian Hossa had a great chance shorthanded with a burst of speed up the ice, and Johnny Oduya used an active stick and great clears to deny the Predators any shots on their first power play. Nashville had had 16 power play shots in the first two contests. The knowledgeable United Center crowd loved it and the Hawks got the early momentum. Keep playing the quick north/south game.
[MORE HAWKS: Hossa off to strong postseason start]
2. Get pucks deep and get them back.
Nashville has a big hole in the back end with the injury in Game 2 to Shea Weber. The Hawks took advantage of this by getting pucks deep and getting them back with a very effective fore check. You really have to place dump ins on the Preds because Pekka Rinne is an active goalie who likes to hunt down dump ins and play them to his defensemen. Chicago did a great job of keeping dumps away from the goalie, and got on the defenders quickly so that they couldn’t get turned up ice. It’s very hard to make a good outlet pass when you have somebody sitting in your back pocket trying to put you through the boards.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
3. Our goalie has to top their goalie.
Looking at the games that have been played so far in this series, the better goalie has gone on to win the game. After Corey Crawford stumbled out of the gate in Game 1, Scott Darling came in to steal the show, and the game, in Nashville. A solid performance in Game 2 gave Pekka Rinne his first win of the post season. Game 3 belonged to Darling, and Rinne looked uncomfortable at times even when he was making saves. The Blackhawks have been outshot 126 to 98 in the 3 games so far and even though the Blackhawks hold the edge in star power, the Predators hold the edge in shots. We know Rinne is capable of winning a game by himself, but it’s been the play of Darling that has the Blackhawks up by one in the series.