Game Time: 7:30 pm CT
TV/Radio: VERSUS, RIS, TSN, CSN+ / WIND-AM 560
Don’t, It’s a Trap! On the Forecheck
Before this series started, I felt that the key to winning was simple: the Blackhawks need to be their very best selves. They can't coast on talent alone, because the Predators can stifle that, but if they put in the same effort, then we'd be fine.
This post's title is an allusion to that sentiment, but at the same time, with the way things are shaping up tonight, it can also be taken quite literally.
I wish I could give you an honest preview for tonight, but I'd have an easier time telling you what to expect out of the Predators:
- No Hornqvist? No problem. The line of Dumont, Legwand, and Ward, much maligned for their lack of visibility in the first two games, have had a much more dominant showing in the third game.
- They are a confident bunch and they do draw off the energy of their crowd. They benefit from consistency and stability both of their coaching and their players' performances.
- This despite an ineffective power play (granted, now that I've called that out, watch them break out of their PP rut tonight) and less disciplined play.
As for the Hawks, what is there to say? Any praise or criticism for one line or all may not matter--we don't even know for sure who we'll see on the ice tonight. Literally. As far as lines during yesterday's practice were concerned, at least, we can expect to see Bickell and Burish in the lineup, and Eager and Fraser out. Campbell may even be quarterbacking the power play. And don't believe for a second that whoever starts the game will end up in the same position--if there's an over/under on the chances that Byfuglien switches from defense to forward, or forward to defense, in tonight's game, take the over.
For what it's worth, yesterday we saw these lines:
Feel free to draw your own conclusions. Feel free to guess what the lines will look like at the end of the first, or the second, or the third. Better yet, play a game of "One Degree" with your drinking buddies--which two guys on the team have never played on a line together? Set a parameter for "January onward" but I'll guarantee still that it'll be a short game, but hey, that's something fun to do to pass the time when the Blackhawks get a power play opportunity. (Zing!)
I don't say this to sound cynical or wary of Quenneville's line-a-palooza. Really, I don't. There is something obviously missing with the way the Hawks have just been playing, and only so much that a coach can say in the locker room to try and get his point across. Line-juggling may be the only thing that works--hey, if the boys are unfamiliar with their linemates, maybe they'd think twice about those no-look drop passes and be more careful before they do defensively challenged plays. All I know is, the Blackhawks need to wake up, and this shake-up may or may not be just the thing to do that.
When you do tune in to watch tonight, remember this: the Blackhawks can only win a game if they show up--figuratively speaking, this time--to play it.