We’ve Only Just Begun

If you didn’t already know, then you must certainly be aware by now that the Stanley Cup Playoffs is as grueling on the spectators as it is on the players. Last night’s 2OT thriller won by Duncan Keith was the first game of the series, and it took nearly four hours to complete while keeping most midwesterners up way past their bedtime on a Wednesday. Unfortunately for all of us this is what playoff hockey is all about, and while the 2OT winner was exciting and dramatic, it really does put people in a bind.

The game itself should be considered more of a Nashville loss than a Chicago win. If you’re Nashville and you get a three goal lead with Pekka Rinne in net, you’ve got to win that game. Nashville had a slew of quality scoring chances in OT, but in the end it was a simple cycle down low that resulted in a long shot from the right point past Rinne who had bodies in front. Also known as the most highly seen game winner in playoff hockey history.

The Predators forced Corey Crawford out of the game early and in stepped local product Scott Darling who was by far the star of the game for the Blackhawks. Darling played magnificently in more than a whole game and kept the Blackhawks in it until Keith’s game-winner. Darling stopped all 42 shots in regulations and overtime, and will certainly find himself on high alert for the rest of the series if things turn out the way they did last night. Crawford has been named the starter for Game 2 in Nashville Friday Night.

Chicago got two assists from Kaner in his return to the lineup after missing 21 games, while Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists, including helping out on the game-winner by Keith. For Nashville they’re already feeling their backs put to the wall as they need to salvage Game 2 tomorrow night or the series could be wrapped up quickly when it shifts back to the United Center on Sunday. Nashville had a great opening period, but they looked sloppy especially in the second period when they let the Blackhawks go on three man advantages, including a 5 on 3. All of those power plays eventually resulted in two goals, tying the game. Chicago’s first goal of the game was given up on a 4 on 4¬†as Hjalmarsson scored and from there the Blackhawks continued to pin Nashville in their own zone causing them to make mistakes. Chicago’s got a great team and they’re going to advance, but Nashville can’t lose big leads with one of the best goalies in the world in net.

Don’t look to have too many things planned on Saturday morning as puck drop for Game 2 is an hour later than last night. At least the kids will be able to stay up to watch that one without being a nightmare for school the next day.