Blackhawks visit Predators in front half of home-and-home
CHI @ NSH
Nashville, winners in just one of their previous five, are four points out of the
final playoff spot in the West with just ten games remaining and will likely end the season on the outside looking in. While four points in ten games is certainly not an insurmountable deficit, the shortened season's intraconference schedule makes it extremely probable that the Predators will only be playing spoiler down the stretch this year.
Chicago, on the other hand, has recently recaptured the best record in the league
as both Pittsburgh and Anaheim have faltered in the past week. Young Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad has certainly helped to propel Chicago back to the top of the standings, with four of his eight goals of the year coming in the last three games, a stretch that saw his team go 2-0-1 against division foes Detroit, Nashville, and St. Louis.
While Saad's recent output has certainly been impressive, Patrick Kane continues
to be the driving offensive force in Chicago. Kane's 19 goals and 44 points are tops on the Blackhawks and top six in the league. For the Predators to have any chance in today's contest, Barry Trotz's defense will need to find a way to stop Patrick Kane, who has only been held off the scoresheet in seven of his team's 36 games.
Although Chicago netminder Corey Crawford (15-4-4) recorded his first shutout of
the season in Nashville earlier this season, it will likely be Ray Emery (12-1-0) who gets the nod in the front half of this back-to-back. There are no doubts as to who will be starting between the Nashville pipes, as Pekka Rinne (14-11-7), who leads the league in goaltender appearances, will attempt to backstop the Predators back into playoff position.
Chicago remains without the services of Patrick Sharp and the recently lost-to-injury Dave Bolland, neither of whom traveled with the team to Nashville today. Nashville will be missing forward Colin Wilson, who is listed on the team's Injured Reserve.
Blackhawks record: 27-5-4
Predators record: 15-15-8
Time: 2:00pm CST
Location: Bridgestone Arena
Where to watch: CSN-CH, FS-TN
Where to listen: WGN 720
Next 2 games: Sunday 4/7 vs NSH, Tuesday 4/9 @ MIN
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