Author: James O'Brien

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

Crawford or Darling for Game 3? Coach Q won’t say (yet)

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If Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville knows which goalie he’s going to start for Game 3 against the Nashville Predators after another rough outing for Corey Crawford, he’s not telling.

For now, he’s just saying “we’ll see.”

Looking at recent history alone, it would seem to point in Scott Darling’s favor. While Crawford has the Stanley Cup on his resume, Darling was perfect in relief in Game 1 while Crawford’s been … not.

It’s not just these past two games against the Predators (in which he’s allowed nine goals in four periods), either. As Liam McHugh notes, Crawford has allowed 3+ goals in his last eight postseason starts:

The Blackhawks might be a little lucky in some ways to head back to Chicago with their series tied 1-1 against Nashville, but there’s only so much that can sugarcoat a 6-2 loss.

Whether he goes with Crawford or Darling, it would be surprising if Quenneville deems the decision as “easy” as his choice was for Game 2, though. (As Keith Jones said, it’s a “brainer.”)

Preds torch Crawford, Hawks; even series at 1-1

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators - Game Two
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So much for the Game 2 being about the officials.

For much of tonight’s contest between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, it seemed like some controversial calls may loom large. Instead, the Predators outright bombarded the Blackhawks in the third period, ultimately winning 6-2.

Now the story is about Joel Quenneville starting Corey Crawford instead of Scott Darling, even if perhaps the focus should be on Nashville taking it to the established team from Chicago.

Nashville never trailed in Game 2. It seemed like it would be a nail-biter for a while … until that third period. The game went from a thriller to a blowout during an incredible finish by Nashville:

The series is now 1-1 as it shifts back to the United Center in Chicago.

Both teams have questions. Shea Weber left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. The Blackhawks got blown out of the arena and face a goalie conundrum. They may also mull over some lineup tweaks, including the possible return of trade deadline find Antoine Vermette.

Either way, the Blackhawks and Predators look like they’ll put together the kind of series you’d expect from the excellent Central Division.

Video: Controversial Kane goal has Laviolette fuming

lavioletteap
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The Nashville Predators likely weren’t happy about some calls from their Game 1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Game 2 might just make head coach Peter Laviolette explode.

Patrick Kane scoring his first goal since breaking his collarbone is a great story … yet it becomes sour when it’s so clear that it (almost certainly?) should have been whistled dead with too many men on the ice:

Want another look at it? Here’s more proof and more Laviolette anger:

Yeah, the Predators probably have a beef:

source:

With Shea Weber out hurt for the rest of this game, the Predators aren’t exactly getting a lot of luck tonight. They do, however, currently hold a 3-2 lead.

Video: Frantic end to period includes Josi goal, Preds-Blackhawks fight

NHL Playoffs: Chicago at Nashville, Game 1
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Casual fans might not know it, but Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is really good. As in, Josi is “outscoring teammate Shea Weber by a healthy margin and not by accident” good.

With less than four seconds remaining, he handed the Chicago Blackhawks a painful reminder that he’s a star-caliber player:

That made for quite the busy end to the first period of Game 2, as the two teams had a mini-brawl to end the opening frame:

There’s plenty of talent on both ends of the ice, and we’ve seen it frequently already. As Central Division adversaries, they won’t need too much time to drum up that playoff hate, either.

Capuano says Isles ‘didn’t deserve’ Game 2, hints at lineup changes

New York Islanders v Vancouver Canucks
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As the 1-1 series shifts to Long Island, both the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders fumed about a different game so far.

That might seem like a no-brainer with a loss apiece, but sometimes teams are happy with efforts and unhappy with results. The Islanders didn’t seem happy about the way they dropped a 4-3 loss tonight, and it sounds like head coach Jack Capuano is mulling over changes, as the New York Daily News’ Stephen C. Lorenzo reports.

“These are the tough decisions you have to make as a staff and now it comes down to personnel,” Capuano said. “We have to make sure we put the lineup in that’s going to help us win Game 3.”

The harshest comment from Capuano was “we didn’t deserve it.”

Here’s a list of the scratches from Game 2, excluding injured blueliner Travis Hamonic (who would be an obvious add-in):

Eric Boulton
Matt Donovan
Tyler Kennedy
Colin McDonald
Griffin Reinhart

That’s not an awful collection of players to insert into the lower level of the lineup. Playing armchair coach for a moment, one obvious scratch possibility would be Michael Grabner, who didn’t manage a single shot on goal and whose numbers look especially hideous when you consider “fancy stats.”

A swap or two might not change everything, yet with a switch to home ice in a rowdy old barn – and with a team that’s one game removed from leaving the Capitals worried about slow feet – the tenor of the situation could change quickly.

Going further, John Tavares didn’t seem too upset:

However they feel about the overall level of play, the Islanders had 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but go back home with the series tied.

Now Capuano’s key is to put his team in the best position possible to have the Capitals picking up the pieces next.