I like the fact that we are playing on back-to-back nights tonight. This should really tell the character of the locker room. Either these guys are deflated and unmotivated tonight and that would be a sign that we need a major shake-up (ie: coaching change and a trade or two as soon as the holiday freeze is over) or they are pissed off that they allowed the two points to go to waste last night and are determined to take it out on the Hawks tonight to show everyone that they are not going to go quietly into the night and that they are still going to be a factor this season.
Only time will tell. Hawks are a tough matchup this season with the young duo of Toews and Kane to go along with Havlat and Ruutu. Same thing as last night, we must play from ahead and stay out of the penalty box.
Good call to change goalies after the second goal. First goal was Zanon getting overzealous trying to lay a big hit on Havlat and leaving Lang all alone where no one really had the time to pick him up before Havlat moved the puck to him for the one-timer. On the second goal there is no way Suter should get beat wide by Byfuglien and then Mason overplayed the initial attempt and was out of position on the wrap around, additionally, Zidlicky failed to read the play and didn't hustle to cover for his partner and help out his goalie. Then we get a stupid, lazy penalty by Tootoo that we have to kill off...let's see if we can do anything with the momentum from killing off the PP.
Next goal decides whether or not this is a game. I'd like to see a fight or two out of the Predators right now...Darcy is in the lineup...use him!
Nice shorthanded play by the Hawks leads to a 3-0 deficit. Ellis really didn't have any chance as the Predators failed to "man up" when the Hawks spread the ice and then chased wildly and allowed Toews to skate in over the blueline unmolested by the four Predators chasing him. Toews drew the defense deep, overpursuing and then dropped it to Sharp for the one-timer that Ellis really didn't have a chance at due to the four Predators screening him.
Road hockey time is now...tell the team to rush the puck only when in full possession and with numbers, otherwise get the red line, dump the puck deep, and plaster the Hawks into the boards until they turnover the puck.
Enough fancy stuff...just grip it and rip it time.
Burish-Byfuglien chance was a prime example of the Predators now pressing too hard. Ortmeyer got picked off by the referee behind the net causing a turnover to the Hawks defense, whoever the high forward was comes rushing in anticipating Ortmeyer's pass and due to the turnover we get stuck with Hamhuis and the high forward caught deep leading to an easy odd-man rush the opposite way for the Hawks.
Too many long passes still...seriously...connect on two short passes and if the Hawks have numbers back, dump the puck in, and get after it. Still would love to see a line of Hordichuk - Nichol - Tootoo and see a three man brawl going, but the Hawks have no reason to drop the gloves right now.
The sad part about this is the fact that our team hasn't shown ANYTHING this game. No one looks pissed off or even shows signs of caring.
I'm sure everyone is going to find a way to pin this on Zidlicky too. He hasn't earned his contract, but it gets old to see his name brought up every time we lose. Same with whatever goalie starts for us, whether that be Ellis or Mason.
The real reason is our system and the fact that we have to play Fiddler and the other fourth liners way too much and expect scoring from them.
Arnott looks exasperated in his intermission interview. He needs to go in there and start throwing things, if the coaching staff hasn't done so already.
What we need to see more of is grit, heart, and determination. Yes, we have some skill players that don't play physical, but for the most part this team is built on third and fourth line character players and we need to start skating like that.
We have seen far too often tonight one player skating through the neutral zone with the puck, only to get stood up and throw the puck deep. That's great, we got the puck deep and that's what we need, however the problem is that his teammates weren't skating hard into the zone, but instead were trailing him looking for a drop-pass opportunity that worked last night in Minnesota, but is not available tonight. The puck either needs to head to the net as we cross the blueline or it needs to get put deep into the Chicago end with two players skating hard after it and the third forward staying high with the defense to read the play and hopefully create turnovers by keeping the puck deep in the zone. We cannot see the high forward or either defenseman start to pinch until we have full possession of the puck or the support is there to get back to cover on a rotation.
This game is far from over with 40:00 to play, but the team has to want it and play through all the crap that Chicago is going to fling there way. Heck, I hope that Bouchard is in the locker room showing video of both Kane and Toews dumping the puck deep on the rush when the play simply isn't there and even skating hard after it to get into position to cut off the breakout attempt and cause turnovers.
We have been outskated, outhustled, and outworked thus far and that is purely unacceptable. Tonight is not a night where this effort is going to go unnoticed and might cost a coaching staff and some players there jobs if it doesn't turn around. PICK IT UP!!!
Great first shift this period by Arnott's line. Unfortunately, they drew a PP and slowed down the momentum we had just gotten, but there we go and allow a shorty. Thankfully we take advantage of both halves of the Perreault double-minor and we might just have ourselves a hockey game again if the team can find a way to put home another.
Seriously, now is the time to start sending messages. The Blackhawks have plenty of people that should be willing participants, but as I said in the first period, they have no reason to drop the gloves at this point.
Chicago decided to play physical and take some runs at the end of that period...now it is our turn to start dishing out some retribution...Hordichuk, Tootoo, Nichol, DeVries, etc...all of them need to drop the gloves this period and send a message for the rest of this season. This is an in-division game, we'll see the Blackhawks a lot more and there is no way, no how that we can let them walk all over us tonight.
If the scoreboard is out of reach at this point, you need to start getting dirty, maybe it changes the momentum of the game and you come back...at a minimum it solidifies the team within the locker room and hopefully does something positive for the next game.