The NHL playoffs are entering the second week of action, and so far through 3 games there aren’t too many surprises. The Flames hold a 2-1 series edge over their Canadian rival Canucks, and the Islanders have a 2-1 edge over the Caps. Those are the two series right now where the lower seed has an advantage.
Well, those two, and the Chicago- Nashville series, where the Blackhawks have a 2-1 lead over the Predators. Although the Hawks are the lower seed, they no doubt are the favorite to win the series, if not the Stanley Cup, especially now that their leading scorer Patrick Kane has returned. Kane picked up right where he left off before he was injured. At the time, he was leading Chicago, and at one point the NHL, in scoring. He was expected to be back for the Finals if they even made it that far, but here he is way ahead of schedule, and is already a difference maker, tallying two assists in game one and a game-tying goal in game 2.
The bigger surprise in Chicago has been the goaltending issue. Hawk’s goalie Corey Crawford was yanked after the first period in game one after allowing 3 goals, and in came rookie Scott Darling to post a shut out the rest of the game and into overtime, where the hawks prevailed. Crawford then let in 6 goals in game 2 as the Preds took that one, and Darling started game 3 and stopped 35 of 37 shots for another Hawk's victory.
He will be the game 4 starter it was just announced. "I'm just happy to be in goal so far, and I'm just happy to be a part of it," Darling said Monday. The hot hand of Darling, Kane’s return, and the absence of the Predator’s captain Shea Weber, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago, all point to an early vacation for Nashville. Look for the Hawks to win game 4 at home and close this out in Nashville in Game 5.