Get tips, get deflections, get bodies to the net, get traffic, take away the goalies' eyes. It's the usual checklist for any team that wants to be successful, especially in the postseason. You want to score goals, get to the net.
But in Game 1, the Blackhawks didn't check enough of those off against Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.
"He definitely saw a lot of the shots. We didn't make it too hard on him. He had a shutout, but it probably wasn't the hardest shutout he had in his life," Ryan Hartman said. "I just think we need to get more pucks to the net."
The Blackhawks were implementing that a lot at Friday's practice, working on those tips, deflections and redirects. Now to use it in Game 2 on Saturday night, when the Blackhawks will look to tie their first-round series against the Predators.
Hartman, who's been good at that all season, was taking turns at the top-line left-wing spot with John Hayden. As of now, it looks like Hartman's most likely there, with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on Saturday. It should be a seamless transition; given he's been there before. The plan is clear, too.
"If I am playing there play hard, be hard to play against. We need more bodies at the net, so I'll be net-front," he said.
Team-wise the Blackhawks have to get back to that. Rinne was good on Thursday, no doubt. The Predators were, too, in terms of keeping the Blackhawks from causing too much of a ruckus in front of their net minder. The Blackhawks are just going to have to fight through it.
"They make it tough to get there and that's part of getting to that hard area. It takes will. It's easier said than done. But they all know if they want to score goals, that's where the rewards are," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Goalies are too good, too big and if they see the puck they're going to stop it. We have to get there in order to make it tough on them, at least try to get second opportunities. So we have to be tougher, harder to play against, certainly in that area."
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The Blackhawks’ early shots, especially, were from the perimeter. They got closer as the game went on but it wasn’t consistent. Rinne credited his teammates for making his job a little easier on Thursday.
“We did a really good job of making it hard for them to get in front of the net. Our D was playing physical, doing a good job of keeping them outside. I was able to see most of the shots,” he said. “But anytime you don’t score goals, the next day they want to put more bodies in front of the net, so we gotta expect that [in Game 2].”
Game 1 wasn't the Blackhawks' greatest outing but it's not the first time they've dealt with a 1-0 deficit – or worse. They had no problem with what they gave up, which wasn't much. It's what they didn't do on the other side that needs to change.
"I can't stress enough: get in front of his eyes, make it harder for him to see pucks," Hartman said. "Hopefully we put one in the net tomorrow."