1. Win the Special Teams battle.
It’s been said before, but it bears worth repeating – win your special teams and you normally end up winning the game. The margin between winning and losing in the postseason is very small. You try to gain any edge you can, whether it’s on face offs, line changes and especially on your special teams. The Blackhawks power play didn’t look particularly good the last 25 games of the year. Nor did the penalty kill for that matter. Back on Feb. 15th, the 57th game of the year, the Hawks had the No. 1 rated penalty kill and the No. 11 rated power play. They finished 10th and 20th respectively after game 82. Each slid about 10 spots. They have the talent, they just need the hard work and resolve to get the special teams figured out.
2. Keep an eye on Nashville’s D.
The Nashville Predators back end had a spectacular season. The defensemen on this team combined for 61 goals. By comparison, Chicago’s defensemen combined for 27. Now that’s not a knock on the Hawks, but it goes to show you how offensive-minded the Predators D-men are. They all have big shots and they all like to join the rush. Make sure you are taking away shooting lanes in your end, especially when Shea Weber is out there. It’s never too late to come back on these guys and try to pin them against the boards by finishing checks in their own end.
3. Get to Rinne.
Pekka Rinne was having a Vezina type season up until Feb. 19th and then the bottom fell out. He gave up five goals to the New York Islanders and finished the season with just 7 wins and 14 losses from that date after going 34-7-2 to that point. His confidence was shaken and he finished the season with six straight losses and an .857 save percentage in those six games. Rinne likes to go down, so look to go high, especially on his glove side. He tends to overslide too, sometimes losing his balance in the process. Wrap-arounds from behind the net are a good option.