John Jaeckel: Hats Off In Nashville

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Follow JJ on Twitter @jaeckel!

Hawk fans are spoiled.

Their team doesn’t lose often. And when the Hawks do drop one, as they did last night in Nashville, every potential issue with the team is dissected and analyzed in excruciating detail.

The truth is, the Hawks have some flaws. As do all their competitors in the Central Division.

And the Hawks have lots of strengths. As do most of their competitors.

The point is, the Hawks are going to lose some games.

James Neal had a huge night last night for the Preds, posting a hat trick, and putting the light of scrutiny on backup goalie Antti Raanta.

To my eye, the first Neal goal was hard to pin on Raanta. It was just a great shot, laser targeted, high stick side. The second seemed to overwhelm Raanta, a high blast, glove side, that Neal launched wide open in the slot. Maybe a shot Raanta could have saved, but tough. The third goal appeared to come off a rebound and that one you have to put on Raanta. But Neal got past Brent Seabrook to get wide open on the doorstep.

The fact remains, Seabrook is a really good defenseman. Neal is a good forward. Some you win, some you lose.

If you’re looking for issues, there is a legitimate question how much Brad Richards really has left in the tank. Now, before anyone cranks up the Teuvo Teravainen Welcome Wagon, bear in mind, he’s not exactly ripping it up in Rockford yet either. And maybe, at 4-1-1, the Hawks have the latitude to keep tinkering and see if they can get Richards going somehow, with somebody.

Because there is at least one other line that isn’t exactly going great guns either, and that’s the top line of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

So maybe there might be some classic Joel Quenneville line shuffling on the way.

I’ll have a St. Louis preview tomorrow.

JJ

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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