Blackhawks edge Nashville 5-4 in overtime for seventh win in a - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks edge Nashville 5-4 in overtime for seventh win in a row

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Blackhawks chalked up their seventh consecutive win with a 5-4 overtime victory versus Nashville. With the win the Hawks swept the season series against the Predators. Nashville is a banged up group who has now dropped eight games in a row. Corey Crawford wasn't at his best and the same can be said for his teammates. 

After clinching the Western Conference crown while being idle during the past week the Hawks didn't bring a complete effort. A natural let down coming off a few days off and after locking up first place in the Conference is not surprising. The Predators appeared hungrier at times as the Hawks couldn't extend a lead past one goal. 

The Blackhawks seemed to turn their effort on and off but in the end Marian Hossa scored a power play goal in the extra frame to seal the victory. For the first time in many, many games the Hawks scored two power play goals in three attempts and that was the best part of Friday night's victory. 

The Blackhawks will want to go into the playoffs on a high note and stay healthy. 

Unless they slump badly in the next week the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league should be theirs. Staying healthy could be more of a challenge with the final five regular season games coming over the next eight days. 

Currently Patrick Sharp is out nursing a shoulder injury and may not return until later next week. Ray Emery is also out with a lower body injury and won't be available for tonight's game against Phoenix. There is no need to rush either player back. Goal keeper Carter Hutton has been recalled form Rockford and could start versus the Coyotes. 

Phoenix is hanging on by their finger nails, their playoff chances are slim. The Blackhawks may have to battle some fatigue as the Coyotes were in Chicago last night resting. 

The Hawks only need to capture five points over the next five games to clinch the Presidents' Trophy, so their biggest opponent may be disinterest.

Al's Shot's

Is the NHL adding five more outdoor games a good idea?

It has not been made official but has been widely reported, there will be five additional outdoor games played during next season. January 1 will still feature the Winter Classic and other contests will have a regional flair for the most part but for the game at Soldier Field. 

In Chicago on March 1, 2014 the Blackhawks will square off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The Penguins are this season's Eastern Conference favorite to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. It should be a great match featuring Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane versus the two best players in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. No doubt this will be a difficult ticket to get with the only question being how many people Soldier Field can accommodate for a NHL game. 

For those who believe the NHL is overdoing the outdoor concept by adding five additional games, I understand your frustration. 

We live in a world of too much and too many, but I can't fault the NHL for pumping up the volume. It has been reported each outdoor game could generates about $30 million in revenue, but more important is the effect on increasing the overall NHL fan base. 

My choice would have been to add only two more outdoor games. One would be on Christmas night, which the NHL PA would have to sign off on. In many ways that would be a more ideal time to capture a gigantic TV audience than an early start on New Year's day. My other outdoor game date would be on the weekend before the Super Bowl. 

Before criticizing the NHL for watering down the Winter Classic and overdoing the outdoor concept, a few points need to be considered. The NHL has never been more popular and now is probably the time to make a push in the States. 

The amount of kids participating in youth hockey programs is up considerably in recent years. The sport has never has had as much national TV coverage since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger in 2011. The evolution of HD-TV has helped a great deal as many have accepted watching televised games. Attendance records have been set as well new marks established for TV ratings. 

The arrow is pointing up and my thinking is no other sport will gain in popularity over the next ten years as much as hockey. That said the NHL has a lot of catching up to do. 

Hockey fans are a loyal group but the critical mass is far less than other major sports. 

My belief is because of the increase in participation at the youth level, during the next decade hockey will gain followers. It wouldn't be a shock if baseball dropped off some and the NHL closed the gap on the NBA. 

Before anyone gets too upset about the NHL trying to push the envelope and capitalize on the outdoor format remember where the sport ranks today. Stanley Cup Final games have had a smaller TV rating than the NBA Draft show. 

Even though the increase to six outdoor games for next season is a big leap, I can't fault the NHL. This is a great game and the sport will be even better when more people in the United States realize the same.

I will be back on Sunday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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