Game Time: 7:30 PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN (Rodeo Channel - JIP)/WGN720
Regular Visitors to Graceland: On the Forecheck
OK... start over. Every other series so far in the playoffs has evened out at 1 game a piece and now it's the Hawks turn to tie it up. They now know exactly what Nashville will be throwing at them. They played a damn near perfect road game on Friday and will be trying to do the exact same thing again. There was nothing outstanding about the Predators game but it was strong enough to take the opener.
For this game we already know that Coach Q is once again throwing the lines into the woodchipper and seeing what comes out. Here's what the Tribune is reporting as the likely lines:
It may have been a bit early to split up the top line. They had been rolling over opponents and didn't look terrible against the Predators. However, there's no denying the connection Sharp and Kane have had when they're on the ice at the same time. Sharp knows where to go and Kane knows he'll get there. Pairing Ladd with Toews and Hossa provides a bit more physical pressence, although anyone who watched on Friday knows that Hossa was ready to throw a big hit too. I'm hoping we'll see Ladd work his way right in front of the net. With the way Rinne has been playing lately, if he sees the shot, he's probably going to stop it. The Hawks need someone planted on top of his crease making his life hell. Yet another reason we could really use Campbell back, Byfuglien thrived in last year's playoffs by getting inside Luongo's head as well as his crease. Rinne needs some pressure on him.
Speaking of Campbell, Byfuglien and the defense... we'll be seeing some changes here as well.
The top pairing is a welcome sight in some ways. We know what those two can do together. The rest of the pairings make me a little nervous. As Sam pointed out in the wrap, the Sopel-Hendry pairing needed to go. They were just awful on Friday. I'm not too sure that a Buff-Hendry pairing will do much better though. Please get better soon Soupy.
If the Hawk want to turn it around, they'll have to make sure that the Predators don't outwork them again. The Predators are extremely good at playing with the lead so it's best if the Hawks don't let them ever get one. If they do get on top though, the Hawks can't start gripping their sticks as tightly as they did Friday. The biggest key has to be getting some traffic in front of Rinne though - The Hawks couldn't score the highlight reel goal on Friday and they'd be foolish to try it again today. The loan goal came from Kane going towards the net and picking up a bad drop by Rinne. Dirty goals count just as much as the pretty ones and sometime they're easier to get. Keep the shots coming on Rinne, keep them low, and get someone there to knock it home.
Lets Go Hawks