NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two steps forward, one step back.
That’s probably the best way to describe the Blackhawks’ last few games, including their forgettable 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Just when the Blackhawks looked like they were making progress they mailed in this one. That garbage can coach Joel Quenneville talks about throwing some games into? Yeah, this one would qualify. But before we call it a night on Broadway, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Nashville.
1. What the heck was that? That’s probably what you all were asking during the Blackhawks’ first 20 minutes. The Predators came with everything they had, from energy to hits to shots, and the Blackhawks showed absolutely nothing in response. Quenneville used the word “ugly” twice to describe the Blackhawks’ start in this one. It’s hard to argue otherwise.
2. Give them a few more Andrew Shaws. If there was one guy who showed mettle throughout this one it was Shaw. The Blackhawks third liner had the most energy, showed the most drive toward the net and was willing to go up against a much bigger Barret Jackman to try and light a fire under the Blackhawks’ collective behind. Shaw came away with bloodied knuckles. The Blackhawks came away still looking uninspired.
3. Scott Darling under siege. The Blackhawks’ backup goaltender faced 18 Predators shots in the first period. Through the first seven or eight minutes he held strong, batting away one prime chance after another. He eventually gave up four. But Quenneville wasn’t putting this loss on his goaltender. “Chances not as frequent and the quality wasn’t as high, but it wasn’t the goalie’s fault. At all,” he said.
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4. Patrick Kane continues his streak. This really was about the only thing to get giddy about from the Blackhawks’ standpoint. Kane punched home a loose puck – and replays, much to Pekka Rinne’s chagrin, did show the goaltender never had control of the puck – to extend his point streak to 24 games. But, as Shaw observed, “I know he’s the type of guy who would rather have the win than keep the streak going.”
5. Take a lesson. The Blackhawks got a reminder on Thursday of what happens when they start poorly. They have about 24 hours to get over it and learn something. Winnipeg, a 6-4 winner over Columbus tonight, will probably still be ticked about their loss in Chicago last Sunday. The Blackhawks had better be prepared for an opponent looking to start the way the Predators did tonight.