by Vince Maranto on 03/26/12 at 04:15 PM ET
Actually, when you wake up after a nightmare, you realize that it didn’t happen. This did. The Hawks were trounced by Nashville on Sunday by a score of 6 - 1. The game was so ridiculous that I’m not even going to waste time by breaking it down into periods. Let’s put it this way. It was Eddie Belfour Heritage Night at the United Center. The new Hall of Famer and former ex Blackhawk was honored before the game started. After the festivities and the National Anthem, it was all downhill form there. Crawford started and Emery finished. Bollig got into a fight and Stalberg scored. There’s your highlights. One of the Preds goal was pretty unique. A Weber slap shot form the blue line, broke Hossa’s stick, went off not one, bot TWO different players skates, and still had enough behind it to go in. Pekka Rinne was his usual self. The now 41 game winner continued to make save after save.This leads me to the point of this writing.
There are 3 major differences between Chicago and Nashville that put the Preds ahead of the Hawks, and not ONLY in the standings. Here they are:
The Preds have a 2.55 goals against average as a team, which ranks them 9th in the league. The Hawks are 23rd, with a 2.84.GAA. Rinne has proven many times that he can steal a game. This can’t be said for neither Emery or Crawford. The Hawks still have not even shut a team out this season. Poor goaltending will kill any team in the playoffs. The season is almost over and to me there is not a clear starting goalie on this team.
Nashville has a 22.6% in the Power Play. They have the #1 PP in the league. The Hawks up and down, in and out of streaks, are currently at a lousy 13.9%, 23rd in the league. Four Power Play opportunities in the game yielded very few shots an maybe one or two scoring chances. It’s not just the inability to set up the PP, but also passing up shots when given the opportunity to take them. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t shoot if it’s there.
Nashville is in the 13th spot in this category with a 81.1% effectiveness. The Hawks are in 26th place at 78.5 %. When the Hawks are aggressive on the PK they are very successful and a pretty good threat to score shorthanded. Toews, Sharp, Hossa & Bolland can all get past you and put one in. But, when they sag back and allow the other team to dictate the action, they are sunk. Winning that draw in your end, right after the penalty. is key also.I don’t know if there is a stat on that, I would like to know what it is. If the PK team wins that face off and clears the zone, then you have already killed the first 25 - 30 seconds.
These 3 areas must improve in the last couple of weeks if the Hawks expect to go any where in the playoffs. Especially past Nashville. The only hope is that Detroit and Nashville end up in the 4 & 5 spot and kill each other in the first round.
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