Nick Schmaltz‘s first NHL playoff game could’ve gone better.
The 21-year-old rookie was on the ice for the Nashville Predators’ only goal last night in Chicago, and he could’ve done a better job to stop it.
The goal ended up being the winner in a 1-0 Blackhawks defeat, and Schmaltz found himself demoted to the fourth line for much of the remainder of the game.
As you can see in the replay, Schmaltz failed to check Ryan Johansen at the blue line, taking out linemate Richard Panik in the process. Johansen was then able to get a pass to Filip Forsberg, who one-timed it for Viktor Arvidsson to tip home.
Now, granted, it was only one game. Nothing to panic about. Schmaltz will probably be back with Panik and Jonathan Toews for Game 2.
But it’s worth monitoring, because the chemistry that Schmaltz found with Toews and Panik was one of the good stories this season for the Blackhawks, who searched for much of the year for a left winger to play with their captain.
Another rookie, Tanner Kero, replaced Schmaltz last night, and Kero acquitted himself fairly well.
Bottom line: whoever ends up filling the spot alongside Toews and Panik will need to be good, otherwise it could be a problem for the ‘Hawks.