1. Better job at the dots.
Faceoffs are not only important in establishing puck possession, they are also the most basic form of a 1-on-1 battle. The Blackhawks lost a lot of these battles on Wednesday night in Nashville. Jonathan Toews and Marcus Krueger were a combined 17 of 49 in the faceoff department. Not good when you are a puck-possession team. Paul Gaustad and Matt Cullen really owned the dots for the Nashville Predators, so don’t take this area of your game for granted tonight because you won the last game. You need all five guys on the ice helping out on the draws.
2. Stay out of the penalty box.
The Hawks did a fantastic job of staying disciplined throughout the regular season. They were the second-least penalized team in the entire NHL, averaging just 2 ½ minor penalties per game. That wasn’t the case in Game 1 where they took six minor penalties, all of the hooking-holding-slashing kind.
These are lazy penalties where your legs aren’t moving and you are reaching to slow a guy down. Nashville had 11 shots on net during their 10-plus minutes of power play time, yet they scored just one power play goal. Best way to kill a penalty is to not take one. Good power plays don’t have to score to generate momentum and crowd enthusiasm.
3. Keep the pressure on Rinne.
Pekka Rinne was pretty ordinary going down the stretch for Nashville, losing his last four starts. He didn’t look much better on Wednesday night. Yes, he closed the door during the third period and overtime, but even when he was making the stops, he looked awkward. Losing his crease is something we saw time and again, and top glove is always an option when he is going down. He now has a save percentage of .871 in his last five starts. Don’t let him off the mat now; shoot early and often in Game 2.