Time to earn that money, boys.
On the day after the Blackhawks announced they had signed extensions with Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the second place Predators came into the United Center and ended the Hawks’ eight-game home winning streak with a 4-1 road victory.
Though the shot totals overwhelmingly favor the Blackhawks (35-23), from the 300 level it didn’t appear the Hawks had many quality opportunities against an exceptional Dan Ellis. In the first period, Toews scored a highlight-reel goal, embarrassing Dan Hamhuis and Ellis with a wonderful display of puck handling and agility. The effort from Toews was wasted, though, as that would be the Hawks’ only goal of the night.
Indeed, Hamhuis would overcome the education he received from Toews to score a goal and assist on another as the Predators scored four unanswered goals, two of which came within 35 seconds of each other in the third period.
The Blackhawks won 36 of 60 faceoffs, but gave the puck away 15 times (against just one for the Preds). Joining Hamhuis with goals for Nashville were Martin Erat, Jordin Tootoo and Joel Ward. Hamhuis, Erat and Tootoo had two points each for the visitors.
In what could develop into a trade rumor-driving situation, it appears Dustin Byfuglien could be working his way into coach Joel Quenneville’s doghouse. Byfuglien started the game on a like with Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg, but after Byfuglien took a stupid boarding penalty at 11:09 in the third, Quenneville rotated his lines. Troy Brouwer suddenly replaced Patrick Sharp with Toews and Marian Hossa, and Sharp skated with Kane and Kris Versteeg. Byfuglien played 15:10, but was minus-two for the night.
Another developing area of concern is the Hawks’ unproductive fourth line. Colin Fraser, Tomas Kopecky and Ben Eager each skated under eight minutes of mediocre ice time on Friday night, and each ended up minus-one for the night.
As the season progresses, something to watch is how the Blackhawks players involved in trade rumors, or with expiring contracts, produce. Fraser and Eager have expiring contracts, while Byfuglien, Sharp, Cam Barker and Brent Sopel have been mentioned in trade rumors already this year. Kopecky signed a two-year deal with Hossa in July, and could be a summer waiver candidate if his play continues to be poor.