Blackhawks Finally Beat Preds, Clinch Playoff Spot

The Blackhawks are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Chicago clinched a postseason spot with a win over a Nashville team that has dominated them all year. Like the rest of the season, it wasn’t pretty. But there there isn’t a line for “pretty” in the standings.

As has been the case all year, the Hawks superstars stole the headlines while rookies did the dirty work. Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook scored goals, but Andrew Shaw had two assists and Marcus Kruger added an assist and two blocked shots in a game that saw most of the Hawks’ roster contribute.

Lost in the goals and assists in the box score, Shaw (20:21) and Kruger (20:23) were on the ice longer than Kane (19:36) and Marian Hossa (18:39) on Saturday night. And they deserved it; both have been outstanding while Jonathan Toews has been out of the lineup.

If winning the Mega Millions came with long odds, how about the Blackhawks converting on power plays in each of the first two periods on Saturday night? Especially against a Predators team that plays such tight defense, the thought of that is laughable on its face, but the Hawks made it happen as they ran out to a 4-0 lead.

Sharp, Dave Bolland, Kane and Viktor Stalberg scored in the game’s first 29 minutes. For Stalberg, it was his 20th goal of the season. He has been playing with increased confidence in the last month, and has become a fairly consistent contributor (even in games that aren’t against the Blue Jackets). Stalberg finished the month of March with three goals and five assists in 14 games.

In spite of morons fans saying Joel Quenneville could/should be fired during the season, and in spite of some fans saying there has been a top-to-bottom organizational failure during this season, the Hawks are in the driver’s seat to be the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and ran off a 10-2-2 record in March without Jonathan Toews and, for the last four games of the month, without Duncan Keith.

Is this Blackhawks team perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination. But consider that, in March, they beat St. Louis (twice), Detroit, Nashville, Vancouver, Ottawa and the New York Rangers without their best player on the ice.

The Hawks will compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. That hasn’t been a reality in Chicago in 15 years, but it is now.

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6 Responses to Blackhawks Finally Beat Preds, Clinch Playoff Spot

  1. pete says:

    Tab the addition of Oduya was key. Without him we would have been in big trouble with the absence of Toews and Keith. I am surprised the Jets let him go.

  2. Melissa says:

    I was upset that the Hawks gave up a four goal lead, but a win is a win and against this Nashville team I’ll take it. I thought Kruger was maybe the best player on the ice. He was smart defensively and made some beautiful passes. If the Hawks don’t keep Shaw for a very long time that would a huge mistake. His pass to Seabrook on the game winner was amazing. He is so determined and smart. I loe this kid. Stalberg had another solid night and finally seems his hands are catching up to his feet. Crawford was crucial and played well especially in the first. He made a couple incredible saves. The Hawks got into penalty trouble which is why the Predators were able to mount a comeback. They have to stay more disciplined. Good win against a very good team without Toews and Keith who might have been able to prevent the Predators from scoring one or two of their goals while we were on the PK. But thi game makes me 100% sure that I do not want to play Nashville in the first round or any round for that matter.

  3. Dominic says:

    Ah jeez. You just can’t resist, can you? People who are critical of Q are morons? Criticism is the beating heart of pro sports. Without it, “It’s not whether you win or lose it’s how you play the game”, would be standard post game press conference soundbites. If you think fans shouldn’t be critical of their team then you should not be a blogger of a team.

  4. wall says:

    Tab,

    “Rusty” Olesz is starting to tear up AHL last week or two! Anyone out there actually see him play? Is he skating better/ more aggressively or is he just the big kid in the right spot playing w/ AHL’ers???

    If he is finally skating (after a couple of years of injuries)… the Hawks just might have another “secret weapon” for post-season run.

    Toews-Rusty-Frolik/Hayes/Bolig on 4th line???? w The 1st three lines playing well-
    spot in Toews on PP and for Bruno every few shifts….

    Hawks will be a very tough out.

    When Rusty was here early… he was responsible on D, and he did attack net!

    Anybody see him in Rockford????

  5. Tab Bamford says:

    @Dominic: I’ve been very critical of the team’s play at times. But saying Quenneville should be fired over a 9-game losing streak, which did happen in Chicago and from one idiot at Sports Illustrated, is painfully naive. You don’t fire a coach because the power play has been inconsistent, you fire an assistant. And you don’t fire the best coach the organization has had in two generations because of a 9-game losing streak when, at the end of the day, they’re still sixth in the conference and winning 10 out of 14 without their best player in March.

  6. Dominic says:

    Sure, just don’t call other fans morons though. I mean I guess we are all morons for spending all the time/money that we do on something whose outcome is beyond our control. But not for having an opinion about it… Besides, sometimes even good coaches can lose their players. Lots of people, including me, thought Q had lost them there for a time. Amyway, call me a moron, but I am glad we made it.

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