Fear the Mullet: Hawks 2, Predators 0
Well, we can all stop hyperventilating now. The Hawks have tied up the series at 1-1 and go to Nashville with a little momentum. The main difference tonight was the team finally decided that they did actually need to work for loose pucks and get people to the net against Pekka Rinne.
If you're the nervious type, you probably didn't like what you saw out of Rinne. He stood on his head, and the Hawks should have had 4 or 5 goals easily. There are two ways to look at it, either Rinne is going to be beast and turn this series into a dogfight, or he was in "steal this game" mode tonight, and still came up empty handed. Regardless, the Antti Niemi proved to be every bit a match for Rinne tonight, and the Hawks got their win.
Antti Niemi - How good? Damn good. It took Antti Niemi a while to seize the starting job this year, but tonight he showed us he can take the team on his shoulders if need be. Niemi was brilliant earning his first playoff shutout. He saved the Hawks' collective asses several times in the 2nd period, and kept them in position to win the game.
Patrick Kane - Kaner was awesome tonight, getting a goal and an assist, and playing well in his own zone as well. The Preds have clearly decided that the way to get to Kane is to rough him up, but he's not backing down from the contact, and on the Hawks 2nd goal, Kaner showed Nashville what happens when you give him any kind of room.
Brent Sopel- One of these days, Sopel's limbs are just going to start falling off. He blocks shots, takes the body and goes to the ice whenever necessary. If Brent Sopel's job description is simply "get in the way" and he's doing a helluva job.
Dustin Byuglien - Granted, he's being asked to play a position he hasn't skated at regularly for two years, but I think that's the problem. Buff's out there pretending he's Paul Fucking Coffey instead of just making the simple plays.
What could be ugly about a playoff win? Well, when Barry Trotz is involved, there's always something ugly in the building. Hockeenight will award a free onesie to the reader who can correctly guess which Chicago bridge Trotz will be sleeping under tonight.