Nashville markets itself as "Smashville," but the players getting smashed most often Sunday night were the Predators themselves.
In Game 2 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at the United Center, the Preds aimed to be more physical than they were for most of Game 1, won by Nashville, 4-1. Instead, the Blackhawks did most of the hitting Sunday night in a 2-0 win that evened the series.
Prior to the game, Predators coach Barry Trotz was asked what areas he wanted to see his team improve. Checking was the first thing he mentioned. Then he watched Chicago outhit his team 32-28, including most of the biggest hits -- which were heard in the farthest reaches of the United Center.
On top of that, the Preds were constantly killing penalties. They were whistled for seven in all, with the game's first goal by Dave Bolland coming on a man-advantage in the second period.
Trotz was not pleased.
"They score on a power play, we have a bad shift and then we take two more penalties," he said. "When you have back-to-back-to-back penalties it'll tax your bench and it'll probably make you pay offensively down the road because you don't have as much push. You really have to work to get through those penalties."
As for the way his defense played, Trotz didn't mince words. A turnover at the Chicago blue line in the third turned into a 2-0 Hawks' lead just second later when Patrick Kane beat Pekka Rinne with a hard wrist shot on a 3-on-1 rush.
"They'll convert at a high execution rate if you let 'em," Trotz said. "Going into Game 3, we've got lots of things to talk about."
After putting 31 shots on Rinne and controlling the action for the better part of the game, the Hawks sounded a lot more confident than they did after being stunned in the series opener.
"We feel like we out-chanced and outshot them," said Hawks center Jonathan Toews, who set up Bolland's goal with a pretty pass in front of the goal. "But we can expect a better effort next time in their building. It's going to be a whole different ballgame."
Through the first two games, Nashville had a poster taped to the wall in its locker room. It was a picture of a camouflage Army helmet like the one synonymous with Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket."
Under the helmet was written, "Survive" with "All in," on the helmet. Trotz didn't think the Preds lived up to the mottos.
"We didn't have as many people 'All in,' as we did the first night," he said. "A little more urgency on our part will be critical for the next game."