Blackhawks face Predators with division lead in sight
What didn’t seem possible a week ago is now possible as things change quickly in the NHL. The Blackhawks are within striking distance of first in the Central division with a St. Louis Blues loss yesterday to the Philadelphia Flyers they are currently only four points back and these teams face each other one more time in the regular season.
The Blues do have a game in hand over the Hawks. The Blues will also play today against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an early afternoon tilt. The Blues have already clinched a playoff spot the question now remains where.
By game time the Hawks could be within two points from the divisional lead with a Hawks win. So there is plenty of motivation to gather up two points as we head down the yellow brick road know as the playoff run. The Hawks after tonight’s game will only have 10 regular season games left and the Blues will have 11. Plenty of hockey left folks before final divisional placements are set.
The Predators come in to the contest with the worst record in the Central at 30-31-10 but the Hawks should not take them lightly. The last outing the Predators won back on 3/14/14 by a 3-2 score at the United Center. The Blackhawks also have not done well against their own division so this game is not a given by any means especially if the Hawks beat themselves.
The Hawks are very familiar with the Preds and their defensive first, tight checking and take away neutral zone space game that they loathe. Patience will be needed and not committing any mistakes themselves or taking any unnecessary penalties. Nashville would love nothing better than to come in and play the role of spoiler.
This game could also see the debut of the Finnish sensation Teuvo Teravainen who has been in Chicago since Thursday since his Finnish team Jokerit exited their playoffs. If and that is a big IF Teravainen plays he will be wearing #86 and probably will be at center. Play your game kid. Tervetuloa Chicago Teuvo.
· Jonathan Toews has been on a roll with so many Hawks injured look for him to step up once again and carry the team.
· Duncan Keith has scored in the last several games look for him to be looking for the net from the point.
· On the Predators side look for the usual suspects like Patric Horqvist who has heated up lately and the always dangerous from the point particularly on the power play captain Shea Weber.
· What to look for:
· Line combinations for the Hawks with the injuries to key personnel the normal match ups are out the window. Recently called up Jeremy Morin will be wearing #11 look for him to establish his game.
· Look for number 86 if he is in the line-up if you have not seen him before you will be impressed with his hockey IQ and his stick handling abilities and vision. Remember as well he is new to North American ice and is only 19 years old. He is a boy playing against men keep that in mind.
· Look for some urgency to the Hawks game and a tighter defense if the Hawks are to skate away with a win as they prep for the playoffs.
Hawks can be seen on WGN TV in Chicago or WGN Radio 720. Start time is at 6:00 pm CT.