The Nashville Predators suffered one of the most deflating and demoralizing playoff losses you’ll ever see this past Wednesday, coughing up a 3-0 lead to the Chicago Blackhawks and losing, 4-3, at home in double overtime.
That’s a series-killer.
“It is,” NBC NHL analyst Jeremy Roenick said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney.
“The Nashville Predators have fallen into the same trap that the St. Louis Blues did last year. The St. Louis Blues lost their last six game going into the playoffs. They lost the top seed, so they (had) to play a harder team, which is the Chicago Blackhawks, and they lose in the first round to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Well, Nashville is falling right into the same trap. They lost five of six coming in. They’ve lost five of six actually losing games that they were winning, with teams coming back and finding ways to lose. You don’t find ways to lose. Nashville’s been finding ways to lose.”
Nashville scored on three of its first 12 shots Wednesday, with Colin Wilson scoring an unassisted goal and a power play goal to put the Predators in complete control. Chicago, however, responded with a tiro of second-period goals by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
Duncan Keith scored the game winner in double overtime.
“There’s another perfect example of you have a team down – like the Blackhawks – and you don’t squish them out and finish them,” Roenick said. “And the Blackhawks, that’s why they’ve won a couple cups in the last five years – because they know when to turn it up and they know what buttons to push. I think this is a demoralizing loss. Nashville worked the entire season, had a very good regular season to get home-ice advantage and then, boom, squandered in the first game. That’s just a tough pill to swallow.”
Brandon Tierney wondered if the Predators are better equipped than the Blues to overcome this kind of loss.
“No, no, they’re not,” Roenick said. “Not at all. Actually, they’re a lot less (equipped) because there’s not that much playoff experience on that team. When you don’t have that playoff experience and you don’t understand that the tempo goes up two or three levels and the intensity and the physicalness goes up, yeah, it’s a short season. It’s a seven-game season now. And when you don’t have that experience and you’re playing a very experienced team that knows how to amp it up, it’s hard to catch up and stay there.”
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who was benched after allowing Wilson’s power play goal, will start Game 2 on Friday – despite the fact that backup Scott Darling stopped 42 of 42 shots that came his way in nearly 68 minutes of ice time.
Roenick supports this decision.
“Corey Crawford has won a Stanley Cup for the Hawks,” he said. “He has earned the spot as the No. 1 goaltender, and no matter how good you are, you’re going to have bad games. Corey Crawford was off and made some mistakes. I think with them winning and bailing him out, I like the move of putting Corey Crawford back in and giving him another chance to redeem himself and to give one back to his team for what they just gave him.”
The puck drops Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET.