Well that’s certainly not an ideal start to the 2017 playoffs.
The Hawks lost Game 1 to the Predators 1-0 after Pekka Rinne stopped all 29 Chicago shots. Nashville took the lead on an Arvidsson goal in the first, and held on the rest of the way. The Hawks had plenty of chances to equalize, but Nashville’s defense, 26 blocked shots, and Pekka Rinne made that an impossibility.
No one said this was going to be easy (actually a lot of people said that). The Hawks now find themselves in a hole, facing a huge rebound game on Saturday night. Let’s break it down…
-I’m no advanced stats genius, but the Blackhawks seemingly dominated in every even strength statistical category outside of blocked shots. There was never a point in the game where I felt like the Hawks were really chasing. Credit Nashville, they succeeded in slowing things down after taking the lead. The Preds did a great job clogging the neutral zone and the middle of the ice, which clearly frustrated the Hawks’ entry attack. It was a perfect road game by Nashville.
-That looked like vintage Pekka Rinne. He was fabulous in net, making a few huge saves at critical times. The Hawks didn’t do a great job creating second chances. It seemed like it was one-and-done every single time around the net. Also, more traffic in front couldn’t hurt. Rinne saw most of the pucks thrown his way.
-You’re going to need to score more than zero goals to win a game. Shocking, I know.
-The Hawks wasted a tremendous performance by Crawford, although he wasn’t truly tested very often. There wasn’t anything he could do on the Arvidsson goal. Other than that he looked pretty sharp. That’s encouraging.
-Artem Anisimov made his return after being out since early March. He looked really, really rusty. Not a huge cause for concern moving forward, but he definitely looked tentative, slow to the puck, and bungled a few normally easy chances.
-Not a great night for Duncan Keith. Let Arvidsson behind him on the only goal of the game, and coughed up the puck with an empty net, nearly gifting the Preds a goal.
-Viktor Arvidsson was all over the place. His goal in the first period, a result of a defensive breakdown by pinching Hawk forwards, ended up being the winner. Then he nearly had another late in the third after boat-racing past Keith. He’s going to be a problem.
-The missed delay of game call in the third period was brutal. That would have given the Hawks a 5-on-3 for 1:55, and even with their struggles up to that point I’m fairly confident they would have dented twine there. Tough call for the officials to make, but the right call is the right call. It should have been a penalty. Unlucky.
As much as it sucks to lose Game 1, this isn’t really unfamiliar territory for the Hawks. We said in the preview that they’re susceptible to slow starts in Game 1 of the first round. Well tonight they started pretty dang fast and just got straight goalie’d. We’ve seen the Hawks recover from Game 1 losses many times before. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that the Hawks rarely have back-to-back poor performances in the playoffs (and they weren’t even that bad tonight).
In all honesty you can’t be very mad at the overall performance. They did a lot of good things, controlled possession, and created some good chances. It just didn’t fall their way this time. We also said in the preview that it was going to take perfection from Nashville to make this a series. Well they got a perfect night from Rinne, and it was enough.
Not time to panic just yet. Come out Saturday, take the lead, and be dominant from start to finish.