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Blackhawks tie playoff series, Niemi continues to shine

By Colleen Boyle

The Chicago Blackhawks lacked organization in game three against Nashville Predators—the first playoff away game for Chicago’s 2010 playoff run. The 4-1 loss was well deserved by a team who could not control the puck, make good passes through the neutral zone, or make many legitimate offensive rushes that produced points.

People all over Chicago did not hesitate to express their disappointment in the playoff loss that gave Nashville a series 2-1 lead and far too much confidence.

Throughout the season, goaltending was the area that needed the most improvement. For what feels like the first time all season, the team’s offense was on the frontline of criticism after being outshot 27-35, and leading goal scorers like Jonathan Toews who only managed one shot on goal and was a minus two for Tuesday’s game.

After Thursday night, Chicago fans can sleep easy and anticipate the team’s return to home ice on Saturday afternoon with confidence and a series tied with two wins for each team..

The difference between Tuesday and Thursday’s game is blatant. Making good passes, playing smart, and going hard to the net can make any team win. Added back into the lineup was defenseman Brian Campbell and right winger Adam Burish.

Campbell’s return since being injured by Alexander Ovechkin in March gave a lot of people comfort after the defensive struggles have recently slowed down the team’s offensive abilities. Campbell has a lot of speed and a great ability to move the puck through the neutral zone and into offensive play.

The 3-0 win and 33 save victory in game four gives Antti Niemi his second shutout in his first playoff series in the NHL. Brent Sopel had a good game—often held the puck, made good passes, and blocked shots.

In the first period, Blackhawks faced a 5-3 penalty kill when Tomas Kopecky and, moments later, Dave Bolland received two minute penalties. The penalty kill was softened after a minute when Nashville took a penalty of their own. After killing off the penalty, the Blackhawks took hold of the game and the momentum.

In an NHL Press Release, official Norris trophy candidates have been announced and include Chicago Blackhawks Duncan Keith, Washington Capitals Mike Green, and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.

While Mike Green leads the in goal and assists for defensemen, Duncan Keith leads all NHL players with the most time on the ice.

Duncan Keith has certainly earned the nomination; however, he has not produced any assists or goals since the playoffs began and remains a minus 4—the lowest on the team. In Thursday night’s win against Nashville, Keith made a bad pass, turning over the puck to a Nashville player directly in front of the net. While the turnover is a disappointment from a leadings defenseman, Keith quickly put his body in front of the net and blocked the shot from even getting to Niemi.

The playoff series against Nashville is tied at two until the teams match up again on Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks need to continue making smart plays and going hard to the net if they wish to continue their 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run. If they keep their momentum and play smart—this could be their year.


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