Well, at least we only have to play these guys two more times, right?

This game was essentially two halves, each mirroring themselves. In the first 30 minutes of the game the Predators built a fire, pitched a tent and sung Kumbaya while making s’mores in the Blackhawks end of the ice. Chicago was lucky to strike first on a goal mouth scramble that was punched in by Ben Smith for his first tally of the season. Nashville would snatch a goal in the final minute of the first period on a James Neal snipe from the right circle after a very nice feed from Seth Jones.

The Marlins of hockey (get a new color palette, my television would appreciate it) would come out of the dressing room in the 2nd and continue to control the play and force Chicago into sloppy plays. A haphazard shift by the 3rd line that were the darlings of the Flyers game and Neal would strike for a 2nd time. This would be one of the last times we would see Bryan Bickell on the ice as Quenneville went to the whip on his favorite target while Kris Versteeg and Andrew Shaw, for reasons unknown to the non-lobotomized, would be rewarded with top 6 minutes the remainder of the game.

Shortly into the third Neal would complete the natural hat trick after Raanta allowed a rebound to his blocker side and the Preds forward blasted it into an empty net like it was Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier’s head. From there on the Blackhawks would something something score effects something something Pekka Rinne is really quite good. 3-2 Predators, Hawks suffer their first regulation loss.

The concise stuff, shall we?

  • Andrew Shaw Top Six Forward and Center™ won 64% of his draws (actually the most among any center*) and scored a goal which will assuredly keep him in the aforementioned trademarked role. Pardon me if I think that is the equivalent of casting Ben Affleck as Batman.
  • Just think of what Nashville might’ve done last season with a full season of a healthy Pekka Rinne.
  • Seriously, Pekka Rinne is really damn good.
  • While I understand trying to set Kris Versteeg up for success for a.) getting him off to a good start after he began the season injured and b.) trading him the hell out of here, I’m not sure I can agree with placing him on a line with Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews while down by two goals. Patrick Sharp probably buries that chance in the 3rd immediately after Neal completes the hat trick. Instead, it was Versteeg receiving those minutes while Bickell is shot into the sun because he didn’t run someone into the boards.
  • No, an .889 SV% isn’t all that good. Reminder: Antti Raanta has played in 27 NHL games, is a backup.
  • Did you know Marcus Kruger played less than Bryan Bickell? Nashville had two powerplays and somehow this happened. Did he get hurt and I missed it? We’re used to Quenneville putting the usual suspects in his doghouse when the Blackhawks are struggling but Marcus Kruger is hardly Kaiser Soze.
  • The Blackhawks lone powerplay was really quite good despite not converting it into a goal. The first unit spent the entire two minutes on the ice and in the Predators’ zone. They had at least four shots on goal. Chalk up more credit for Rinne here.
  • After seven games, and only seven games, I’m not impressed with Brad Richards at all. It’s just seven games and I hope that changes by Thanksgiving. Even if it only changes to “hey, I noticed Brad Richards doing stuff in this game!”

Credit to Rinne for making some excellent stops in the 3rd period and getting Nashville the two points in regulation. The Hawks travel to St. Louis so make sure to get your Ebola vaccine if you’re heading to the armpit of the midwest for that one.

 

* – I cannot stress how loosely I use this term when referencing Andrew Shaw’s position as a hockey player