NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The question was posed to Joel Quenneville -- If there is one thing you want to address with your team after this game, would it be their compete level?
Quenneville’s reply? Absolutely.
And with that, change is in the air.
The Chicago Blackhawks need to do something different if they’re to recapture the momentum in their best-of-seven series against the Nashville Predators. Games 1 and 2 were similar and didn’t elicit much in the way of emotion or offense for that matter.
Game 3 had both and they belonged to the Predators.
What can be done? Let’s start with lineup changes. The usefulness of the current fourth line has run its course and an infusion of both Adam Burish and Bryan Bickell might just help offset a Predators team that ran all over the Hawks in Game 3. The Blackhawks were outhit 32- 18 for the game and 16-6 in the opening period, when the Predators muscle for the night was established.
If Brian Campbell is anywhere near ready, this might be a good time for his return. No one player will make the difference but as Predators coach Barry Trotz put it Tuesday morning, “the little details add up.” The Hawks need to break Nashville’s stifling defense and one more good puck mover could only help. If Quenneville continues to believe there isn’t enough traffic in front of Pekka Rinne, maybe it’s time to bring Dustin Byfuglien back from the blue line.
Does all this sound like panic? It shouldn’t. After a loss like the Game 1 defeat, you stay the course. After this one, you find answers.
These changes are just a start. The Blackhawks’ best players need to emerge, starting with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. Isn’t Hossa the type of player that can take over a game or at least do it for long stretches? He’s had his moments but nothing to back up his superstar status. He was minus 2 -- as was Toews -- with three shots. Toews missed the net—four times—more than he hit it --once.
At the end of the day, the biggest change won’t be a lineup or roster move, it’ll be a higher energy on the ice. Talent will overcome, if the work ethic comes first. It wasn’t there in Game 3 and it needs to be in Game 4.
One way or another, change is coming, or this series will be the Hawks’ last.