Chicago Blackhawks: Is it Time to Bench Corey Crawford?

Paola Ditto
Aprile 21, 2017

The Blackhawks are down 2-0 in the Western Conference First Round best-of-7 series against the Nashville Predators, and haven't scored a goal entering Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN 1, TVA Sports, FS-TN, CSN-CH). The Predators have clearly designed their game plan around owning the middle of the ice, and own it they have. Not to be discounted, their interception in the neutral zone of Chicago attacks has no doubt also contributed to the two shutouts to start the series, as the Blackhawks forwards have had neither time nor space to mount a consistent attack. It was the Blackhawks' best odd-man rush by far. They have been replaced with smaller wingers who have nice offensive games, but are struggling to match the physical play of the Predators. As a Blackhawks fan, I sure hope so. "It will be fun".

Nashville Predators center Craig Smith (15) and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) go for the puck during the first period in Game 2 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series, Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Chicago. A loss by the Predators would even the series and set up a best-of-five situation with Chicago. Hossa had a clean look on Rinne, but just couldn't get a good whack on the puck.

The Blackhawks have overcome more hard deficits in postseasons past including a 3-1 deficit to the Detroit Red Wings during the quest to their fifth Stanley Cup Trophy. Rinne also stepped up at key moments in his second career playoff shutout. "At the end of the day, it has to be energy, speed and just that competitive nature has to kick in right away and we can't wait for them to wake us up".

Plus, given Crawford's track record of performance it seems unlikely that he is going to have another clunker like he did in game 2. "I don't really think about what guys have been through before or not". The Sharks will look to even the series as the teams tangle in Game 4 on Tuesday night at SAP Center.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lineup, inserting rookie Vinnie Hinostroza and Dennis Rasmussen and benching veteran Jordin Tootoo and John Hayden.

Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? . In his last 17 playoff games (dating back to Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals), Kane has three goals.

"It's disappointing. Generally we're pretty good at closing out games", Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy said. "There's a lot of positive vibes going around about [how] we've been great on the road all year".

"There's got to be more desperation". Fighting for your ice and space is going to be paramount. It'd be nice to get one of those bounces. A few pipes were rung throughout the contest, notably with Jonathan Toews barely missing the net shortly after the game began. Not known as a goal scorer, Toews often creates offense quickly for his line mates and keeps them involved throughout the sequence of a game.

Don't count the Blackhawks out just yet; if they can score first and pull the Predators out of that stifling D, they may just stand a chance. Six came from the low slot - closest to the goaltender - and two from the high-slot, one from P.K. Subban and the other from Roman Josi.

Now that everyone expects the Predators to win this series - and why wouldn't you given they way things have gone? - the pressure comes.

Both had.918 save percentages at all strengths with Rinne boasting a slight edge with a 2.42 goals-against average to Crawford's 2.55 mark. The goal marked the first of Sissons' playoff career.

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