Predators Game Day Preview: Nashville @ Chicago


Blackhawks blog: Second City Hockey

TV: FS-TN (Comcast 28, Dish Network 449, DirecTV 644)

Radio: 104.5 "The Zone" (WGFX)

Since St. Louis and Anaheim both won last night, the Preds will need a victory in Chicago tonight to keep pace in the playoff hunt. If you're going to the game (like Mark is), be sure to pick up a copy of "The Committed Indian" on your way in; it's an independent newsletter produced by the Second City Hockey guys for each home game, and I participated in a Q&A for today's edition. It's really an incredible piece of work that they put together over there.

Questions to be answered: (1) Outside of Sullivan-O'Reilly-Ward, can any of the forward lines generate consistent offensive pressure? (2) Wouldn't this be a great time for Patric Hornqvist to step up and contribute? He hasn't scored a goal in his last 18 games with Nashville. (3) Can the mighty Jed Ortmeyer make a difference in his first NHL game of the season? His line with Radek Bonk and Jerred Smithson might well have been the worst in the NHL last season, and will hopefully NOT be reunited.

Predators coming in: Until Tuesday's loss in Columbus, the Preds had gone 5-0-3 in the previous eight games. Mounting injuries, however, have made goal-scoring more difficult of late.

Blackhawks coming in: Chicago cooled off considerably during the month of March, going 6-7-2, but is coming off an impressive win over St. Louis on Wednesday. They are currently in a battle to secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with Calgary and Vancouver, so they should definitely be motivated.

Predators to watch: The top line of Steve Sullivan, Cal O'Reilly and Joel Ward is Nashville's best hope up front, and you can expect Shea Weber and Ryan Suter to jump up from the blueline often.

Blackhawks to watch: Jonathan Toews just topped the 30-goal mark for the first (and for sure, not the last) time in his young career, and Martin Havlat leads the team with 69 points. Even more remarkably, he's played all 75 games so far for Chicago, a career high for the perpetually injured winger.

Here's a look at the two teams in the main statistical categories, along with overall NHL rank:

Nashville Chicago
 Record 38-31-8 18th 41-24-11 8th
 Pts % .545 18th .612 6th
 Goals For/Game 2.51 24th 3.18 4th
 Goals Against/Game 2.68 8th 2.64 5th
 5-on-5 GF/GA 0.95 18th 1.15 6th
 PP% 15.4 26th 19.6 11th
 PK% 83.6 4th 80.4 18th
 Shots/Game 29 20th 33.2 4th
 Shots Against/Game 29.4 11th 28.8 7th
 FO % 52.3 4th 48 24th

Next, let's see which players draw penalties, and which ones head to the box (data through March 31):

 Nashville Penalties Drawn Chicago Penalties Drawn
 Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-  Player Draws Fouls Pen +/-
 Jordin Tootoo 50 45 +5  Patrick Kane 29 18 +11
 Martin Erat 25 24 +1  Ben Eager 28 43 -15
 Ryan Jones 24 10 +14  Kris Versteeg 27 14 +13
 Dan Hamhuis 23 25 -2  Colin Fraser 27 16 +11
 Vern Fiddler 22 12 +10  Dustin Byfuglien 27 28 -1
 Joel Ward 21 12 +9  Dave Bolland 26 19 +7
Penalties Taken Penalties Taken
 Jordin Tootoo 50 45 +5  Ben Eager 28 43 -15
 Ryan Suter 17 35 -18  Dustin Byfuglien 27 28 -1
 Shea Weber 15 35 -20  Brent Seabrook 15 27 -12
 Greg de Vries 12 27 -15  Matt Walker 15 24 -9
 Dan Hamhuis 23 25 -2  Duncan Keith 8 23 -15
 Martin Erat 25 24 +1  Jonathan Toews 26 22 +4

Patrick Kane is a speedy and shifty puckhandler, so he'll present one extreme challenge to the Nashville defense, while Dustin Byuglien will provide the opposite; a hard-charging Bertuzzi-like presence that can potentially create havoc.

And lastly, the goaltenders...


2008 - Dan Ellis 35 1965 11 19 4 5 96 2.93 963 867 .900 3
2008 - Pekka Rinne 47 2693 27 12 4 4 101 2.25 1293 1192 .922 7


2008 - Cristobal Huet 40 2291 19 15 4 5 97 2.54 1064 967 .909 3
2008 - Nikolai Khabibulin 37 2159 21 8 6 1 90 2.50 1063 973 .915 1

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