Western Conference Playoffs Round 1 vs. Nashville: Game 5

IMG_0499After a full week, that appears to be a beard. That means that magical things are going to start happening. More beard = more magic. Nachos help, too. So tonight should be a magical evening.

By 1:15 A.M. on Tuesday night, I was so tired that I turned off the light and decided that I would allow myself to fall asleep with the TV on, hoping to be awoken by the sound of Chelsea Dagger signaling a Blackhawks win. Two minutes later, Brad Richards forced a turnover, Patrick Kane picked up the puck and did Patrick Kane things, and found Brent Seabrook for a one-timer from just in front of the blue line that found it’s way into the net through a Bryan Bickell screen. Good thing, because I don’t think I could have actually fallen asleep without knowing the result of the game.

That play just goes to show how good a team the Blackhawks are. When they are on their game, everyone contirbutes. They can play conservative and wait out their opponent to make a mistake. Scott Darling didn’t have to do much in the overtime periods, except for a great stop on Philip Forsberg, in whatever period that was (they have all bled together, I don’t remember). The Hawks played tight defense and got their chances when the Predators turned the puck over. If it weren’t for Pekka Rinne, that game would have been over an hour earlier.

That’s how I expect tonight’s game to go. The Predators will be desperate. They’ll have their (mostly) home crowd behind them and they’re going to come out hot. If the Blackhawks can survive the first 10 minutes without giving anything up, or even get an early lead, the weariness from 5 overtime periods and playing most of this series without their best player will start to set in on the Preds. The Blackhawks have been great when they have a chance to close out a series. Their 11-3 record since 2009 in these scenarios sounds pretty convincing even before you consider that includes two Game 7’s that they lost in overtime (Vancouver 2011, LA 2014).

My main concern is the douchebaggery that could begin if this game gets away from the Predators. Mike Ribeiro has played like a complete tool. I thought I already knew that about him, but now that has been confirmed with the way he has played the last two games. These past 4 games have probably been the best that Viktor Stalberg has ever played. Like he actually gives a shit about the result of the game for once. He has been winning races and board battles and looks like the player Q wanted him to be when he was a Blackhawk. He got away with a pretty obvious boarding penalty on Jonathan Toews, so I’d expect to see him try to bring the physical play some more this game.

Fortunately the Blackhawks have the players to counter that type of nonsense. Bickell looked like a different man once he was paired with Richards and Kane in Game 4 and provides a big body to protect Kane. Andrew Shaw is a pest, but he’s our pest. Andrew Desjardins has been a revelation these past two games and can mix it up with anyone. And of course, Seabrook isn’t afraid to put someone through the glass if that needs to happen.

I don’t expect a letdown tonight. Don’t give the Predators any hope. Send these stupid, whiny, hillbilly fans, their dumb mayor, and Krazy Kyle home sad enough to write another terrible country song about it. Then they won’t have to worry about Chicago fans in their stadium until October. LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

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