Blackhawks look to continue roll against Predators
The Blackhawks are coming off of a hot night in cold, blustery snowstorm in Chicago. They are looking to continue their hot streak and stay ahead of tough Central divisional opponent Nashville. The Central Division of the Western Conference is turning out to be an absolute dog fight amongst the teams in the best division in hockey right now.
Currently the Chicago Blackhawks sit atop the Central division and Western conference with a 29-13-6 record and a league leading 64 points. The Blackhawks are coming in off of a three game win streak and an emotional reunion game Friday with the Florida Panthers. It is important they come away with points in this one as they are entering a very tough schedule ahead.
The Nashville Predators are coming in fourth in the Central divisions and sixth in the Western Conference with a 27-16-4 record and 58 points. The Predators sit behind the Hawks, Red Wings and Blues and need to win to keep pace in the Central.
The last time these two teams meet was all the way back on Halloween when the Blackhawks squeezed by the Predators in OT 5-4 on a Viktor Stalberg wrister that got past Pekka Rinne. That game saw an uncharacteristic lack of discipline from the Predators as they committed nine penalties totaling 26 min of penalty time. The Hawks will not get this fortunate again. Last year the series was split 3-3 between these two teams.
It will be Corey Crawford to start in the Hawks nets with a GAA of 2.81 and a SV% of .904 and probably Pekka Rinne for Nashville with a GAA of 2.44 and a SV% of .924
What to look for
· The Hawks themselves need to stay out of the penalty situation themselves as Nashville has a lethal power play and rank second in the NHL only behind Vancouver in potency.
- After coming off of the emotional and physical drain of the elements in Chicago and the travel Hawks might be slow to find their legs. It is important that they get an early lead.
· Pekke Rinne will be tough to crack. It is essential in my opinion that the Hawks keep shooting at Rinne and get people to the net to get anything past him because he is stingy as is the overall team D. The Hawks may not crack them til the third so patience is needed as well.
· Last time the Hawks faced the Predators Patrick Kane lead the way with two goals. Since he broke his drought last night against the Panthers, look for him to continuing to take advantage of scoring chances.
· Jonathan Toews has been blazing trails to the nets and is coming in with 5 goals in his last 4 games.
· Scoring leaders for the Predators are Shea Weber D who leads his team in assists and has a killer shot from the point. David Legwand C is their top goal scorer with 13. Marty Erat RW with 32 points which is second overall best on the team.
Injuries – the Hawks are pretty healthy coming into this one with Patrick Sharp out & Daniel Carcillo on IR. For the Predators D Ryan Sutter is doubtful with an upper body injury
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