Friday, April 16, 2010

"Hockey never left Chicago. But it definitely has returned."

Alright, it's here: Game 1 of Round 1 of Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators.

And every sports writers, blogger, Tweeter, fan, coach and guy off the street can give their opinion, toss the statistics back and forth, and make their predictions, but the truth is going to come down to the puck drop tonight and three 20-minute periods of play.

Nashville has it slightly easier than the Hawks going into the series. Nobody had particularly high expectations of the team and yet they quietly and solidly worked their way to 7th place in the Conference, and they're facing up against the team who perhaps has the highest possible expectations on their shoulders, the Blackhawks. The teams have two different styles of play, but in terms of level of play, are fairly closely matched.

Chicago needs to have their act together, and keep it together, for every single game from here on out. They can't cruise to big leads and then sit on their heels. They can't play rock-solid defense one game and have holes you can drive trucks through the next. They have to be consistent, solid, pressing contenders like we know they can be.

And if I hear one more word about the "inexperience" or "question marks" in the Blackhawks net, I'm going to scream.

It's not simply because Niemi has clearly earned the spot, but it's because he isn't the only rookie goalie out there, earning their playoff stripes. As previously noted, perhaps no other team in the entire league has higher expectations heaped upon their shoulders: three gold medal and one silver Olympian medalists, including one of the stars of the Olympics, Jonathan Toews; a team that had been discounted until last year and has roared to new franchise highs this year; a team full of bright young stars with great chemistry together. It is little surprise that amidst all those spotlights, people are questioning the "goalie situation".

We've just been through the first two days of the playoffs, and I don't think there's a rookie goalie in the league who hasn't stepped up and been ready to shine.  Game after exciting game, there's been two nights filled with upsets and 1-point wins.

Game one at the United Center and what is sure to be an exciting, heart-pounding series is tonight. Let's go, Blackhawks!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your viewpoint!

Please note that anonymous comments are moderated in order to prevent spam.