Daily Herald
Sopel's skills not going unnoticed
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 4/26/2010 10:56 PM | Updated: 4/27/2010 12:16 AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The strong play of defenseman Brent Sopel as a penalty-killer turned out to be one of the keys in the Blackhawks' first-round win over the Predators.

Nashville finished the series 1-for-26 on the power play, with Predators coach Barry Trotz saying if there was one of the Hawks he would like to have eliminated from the picture it would be Sopel and his shot blocking.

"The one guy that I would say I've got a lot of respect for in this series that sometimes goes under the radar in the regular season is Brent Sopel, who has been fantastic for them on the PK," Trotz said. "He's blocked a lot of shots; he's got in the lanes and been real good.

"In the regular season, I don't know if he was in the lineup a lot against us, I can't remember, but especially in the playoffs I've really noticed his play, especially on the PK.

Sopel had 21 blocked shots for the series. He even came back in Game 6 to play after getting 8-10 stitches from a Patric Hornqvist high stick in the second period.

"It's whatever it takes to win, and Sopes is the ringleader in that department," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

"He's willing to block some bombs and willing to sacrifice his body, but his positioning is part of that as well, whether he's denying those shots by being in the right lane or blocking it because he is in the right lane.

"His anticipation and experience of knowing how to block the shots and kill the penalties has been a big asset to our PK."

Hossa apologizes: Marian Hossa said he apologized on the ice to Dan Hamhuis on Monday for the hit in Game 5 that earned the Hawks' star a major penalty for boarding.

"The first shift I had a chance to go with Danny on a faceoff and I told him I apologize and I did the same thing after the game shaking hands," Hossa said.

Moving on: Brian Campbell stayed out of the controversy surrounding Marian Hossa's hit on Dan Hamhuis and how it compared to what Alex Ovechkin did to Campbell last month.

Predators coach Barry Trotz said the hits were the same. Ovechkin was suspended for two games, while Hossa escaped supplemental discipline.

"Honestly, I'll say this: I didn't see it," Campbell said. "I saw it quickly during the game, but I didn't really see the reaction after. It's a tough play, I'm sure. (Hossa) got his five-minute penalty and it's pretty borderline, I'm sure. Obviously, Hamhuis is all right.

"Marian has played a lot of games in this league, and I don't think he has a history of doing anything like that."

As low as it goes: They say the key to having success in the playoffs is balancing the highs and lows of a series.

Losses don't come any tougher than the one the Predators suffered in Game 5, and coach Barry Trotz admitted it took most of Saturday night and Sunday morning for his team to get over the stunning finish.

"Think about the lowest place you can think of and we were there," Trotz said. "We were at ground zero, if you want.

"That was a stinger, but at the same time there are two things: You can just lie there and feel sorry or get off the floor and be (ticked) off and be determined. I saw our team come in (Monday) with the second."