Jonathan Toews has Chicago headed in the right direction
It is safe to say that no more than .01% of the hockey world expected the Blackhawks to be in their current predicament, and that includes the mothers (and one famous country singer wife) of every Predators player. Chicago has to walk into Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for Game 4 and walk out with a win or head back to the Windy City complete with a first round exit in their overnight bags.
The Blackhawks have been out-everything’d all series, including being outscored 9-2. Granted, Monday night’s loss came at the hands of a fluke bounce off the boards and a missed goaltender interference call that allowed the Predators to tie the game and send it to overtime, which resulted in a Hawks loss thanks to a Kevin Fiala goal with 3:16 left to play in OT.
Thursday night is where it ends. Thursday night Jonathan Toews remembers who he is and how great this team can be. My prediction: Blackhawks 4 – Predators 2, and Toews has 1 goal and 2 assists. There is simply no way the guy who scored 21 goals and had 37 assists this year finishes this series having been swept, never having found the back of the net, and only having one assist. It simply won’t happen.
Toews has been matched up against the Johansen line all series. It clearly isn’t working, in part because he is spending more time chasing and defending than attacking. Coach Quenneville is the master of line switches and expect to see a Yahtzee dice roll of changes. One of my favorite combinations is putting 19 and 88 on the same line when things get dire. Well, there’s no way your back can be more against the wall than down 3-0 on the road. Look for Toews and Kane to get a significant amount of ice time together away from Nashville’s top line in hopes of springing the superstars.
Don’t plan on seeing the same Blackhawks team you have seen the first three games of the series. Remember, this was the #1 team in the West this season, and if anyone is capable of flipping a switch and ripping off 4 in a row it’s the Chicago Blackhawks. One game at a time boys #DynastyReign.