The Nashville Predators (5-2-4) play host to the Chicago Blackhawks (9-0-2) Sunday night in the last game of Chicago’s longest road-trip this season.
Nashville, fresh off a 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota that cut off their four game winning streak, is geared up tonight to do something no team has been able to do so far: beat the Blackhawks in 60 minutes.
This is the first of five match-ups between CHI and NSH, though the teams will not meet again until April when they will drop the puck four times in three weeks. Nashville without question dominated the series last season, taking four out of the six contests averaging more than four goals per game.
|March 31, 2012||CHI @ NSH||CHI, 5 – 4|
|March 25, 2012||NSH @ CHI||NSH, 6 – 1|
|February 14, 2012||CHI @ NSH||NSH, 3 – 2|
|January 24, 2012||NSH @ CHI||NSH, 3 – 1|
|January 21, 2012||CHI @ NSH||NSH, 5 – 2|
|October 31, 2011||NSH @ CHI||CHI, 5 – 4|
But the Blackhawks proved in their 6-2 victory over Phoenix that they can turn up the offensive heat too. All while still maintaining a league-leading 92.7% PK defensive force in front of .930 Sv% goaltender Corey Crawford.
Chicago feels good, and they’re pretty consistently playing a good game, a perfect time for the confident Predators to strike hard.
Even with their current record, Nashville is still in a good position to give the Hawks a tough time tonight. Second in the Central Division with 14 points, the Preds are still in it, putting forth a sturdy PK and allowing in fewer goals per game than the Blackhawks. Nashville, like Chicago, has some depth on their offensive line, with their 24 goals spread over 13 skaters.
Chicago is poised to make a clean break ahead of the rest of the Western Conference. Out of a possible 22 points so far this season, the windy city team has tallied 20 of them in their favor, stacking them 3 points ahead of the next leading competitor.
Key players in the Blackhawks success are the big guys up front. Patrick Kane, proving successful in his mission to turn things around from last year is now 8-10-18, second for points in the league. Marian Hossa is second in goals for Chicago, with 6 goals and 5 assists.
Blackhawks record: 9 – 0 – 2
Predators record: 5 – 4 – 2
Location: Bridgestone Arena
Where to watch: Chicago: CSN-CH, Nashville: FS-TN
Where to listen: Chicago: WGN 720, Nashville: 102.5 The Game Radio Network
Next 2 games: Tues 2/12 v ANA, Fri 2/15 v SJS
(This post appeared previously on thecheckingline.com)