Next year, remind any Predators fan of this picture and they'll probably start crying.
Apologies for the delayed wrap. I tried the patented "rally shot" method last night at the bar (order a shot... it sits on the bar til the Hawks score or the game ends.) The hangover is worth it if they win... not so much when they lose. So in a way I'm glad it was a low scoring game. So sadly, this was one of the Blackhawks better efforts and they still came up short. This losing streak clearly will end at some point and it almost did last night but instead we have to go through NYC and then the dangerous trap game waiting for the Hawks in Columbus... although when you've lost 9 in a row I think you also lose the ability to call anything a trap game. Then again the BJs are all kinds of awful.
Back to last night - The first period was damn near a perfect boring road game with both teams dealing with their own losing streaks and just feeling each other out, though with a nice little flurry of penalties that thankfully didn't hurt the Hawks, though certainly didn't help. Then things closed out with a bang as Jonathan Toews gave up the puck in the neutral zone and (as it always seems to do lately) it resulted in a goal against with a pretty little passing play to set up Suter for a wrister. If the Hawks had gone into that first intermission, I'm almost certain the game would have been over. Thankfully, Bryan Bickell was given the full hour he needs to get his shot off when he and Mayers caught the Preds on a change and he beat Rinne for the first time that night.
The second remained close with Nick Spaling the only able to find the net when he re-directed Ryan Ellis' shot. In the third, Marian Hossa showed more signs of coming back to life with his first goal since this losing streak began back on Jan. 21st. Unfortunately, Ryan Ellis would have another shot tipped, this time by Duncan Keith, late in the third and the it found it's way between Emery's legs. Game. Bullets.
- Toews' line (paired with Kane and Sharp for those who haven't been keeping track) had a solid night with 10 shots but were hardly dominant. Toews himself looked like he's fighting everything. The uncharacteristic turnover in the neutral zone obviously pissed him off as he ended up shoving Suter after the goal. I doubt there's anyone taking this losing streak harder than the captain but this would be the perfect time for him to stand up and put the team on his back. Sadly, he's hurting (in more ways than one) and I'm not sure he can do it right now.
- Ray Emery was not awful tonight. And that's about the best we've been able to say about our goalies in a while. While he probably should have been able to stop the game winning goal, re-directions are always going to be tough. The other two goals would have been hard for anyone else to stop either (great passing and a slight screen on the first, another re-direct on the second). He still seemed shaky though and had a couple near misses that were just inches away from being the backbreakers that have become this trip's theme. I see no reason not to start him again on Thursday... they're going to need to split him and Craw up over the weekend anyway.
- Dylan Olsen is being left out on a hill to die at this point. He's shown that he's close but he simply needs more time. Everyone here knows the adage that defensemen take more time to develop, yet here we are rolling out a 20 and 21 year old. I think they're both going to be solid (and could even make a good pairing) but now is not there time. Leddy may be able to work through it. I don't think I feel the same about Olsen.
- Both Kane and Hossa had solid nights. Only Panda found the net but Kane led the team with 5 SOG. When Toews is hurting and Sharp in one of his down periods, these are the two the team needs to step up. I think they're close, which means a win could be too.
- This is your obligatory mention that John Scott was on the ice for only 4:02 and saw no more than two shifts a period.
- If this loss happens earlier in the season, we write if off with the obligatory "can't win 'em all" or "shit happens". When it's 9 in a row, it stings. Though if the Hawks were looking for a dramatic way to turn it around, beating the Rangers would certainly be it.