CHICAGO – When this current run of success on the ice began, a similar thing transpired at the same place as it did on Thursday..
It’s been so long, there has been so much success, the memory might have been lost for a number of Blackhawks fans. In fact, it ended a little worse than Game 1 did in 2017 against the exact same team seven years ago.
In 2010 when this current era of the Blackhawks was just beginning, Nashville came into the United Center and stunned the fans with a furious third period. Joel Quenneville’s team entered with a 1-0 lead and were saddled with a 4-1 loss twenty minutes later.
For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations and still a little new to the postseason, it was a smack in the face. It could have spelled doom for a team that made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals the year before and were the nouveau riche of hockey.
The Blackhawks rebounded, won a thrilling Game 5 to take the momentum away from the Predators in a six-game first round win. About five weeks later, the team hoisted its first Stanley Cup since 1961.
Why bring up a story like this after the Blackhawks once again lost to the Predators in a Game 1 of a first round series seven years later?
Because if fans are for some reason concerned, they shouldn’t be. This has happened before, this will probably happen again. Disconcerting, perhaps, was a slow start that allowed the Predators to get the eventual game-winning goal in the first period.
The team had better offensive intensity but had bad finishing power near the net, which coupled with a gem in net by Pekke Rinne (Yes, he won that 2010 Game 1) made for an off night for the Blackhawks.
“They did a good job of having the lead and trying to frustrate us,” said Quenneville after the Blackhawks’ first playoff home shutout loss since 2012. “We generated enough in the second period to score but we didn’t.”
Experience is great, isn’t it? They’ve been here seven times before and have won four of those series, three of which came in seasons where they won the Stanley Cup.
No panic or problems for anyone on the roster, even if it includes a number of new players. Makes losses like this one a little easier to take even if it’s getting off on the wrong foot.
“For all of us, we’ll take a message for tomorrow. We learn and regroup from this one,” said Patrick Kane, who also said that the young players need no pep talk after a tough loss since they’re taken on such a big role with the veteran group.
Losing home ice won’t faze them either. The Hawks won 24 games on the road this year – the most in the Western Conference and second-most in the NHL. Not that they’ll take a defeat in the playoffs lightly, but don’t expect them to dwell.
“We have to try and get better. We played well, but we need more,” said goalie Corey Crawford, who took the hard luck loss on Thursday. “We need more. It wasn’t good enough, we lost the game.”
It happens. They’ve done it before and been just fine on this stage at this particular time. On to Saturday.