Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks: Game Day Preview

[NHL.com] - [SB Nation] - [Second City Hockey]

7:30 PM CST | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD)

The Chicago Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators tonight at the United Center, in what presents a bit of a litmus test for both squads over a third of the way into the season. Western Conference quarterfinal opponents last year, division rivals, and playoff contenders, there's plenty of bad blood between the Hawks and Preds.

Patric Hornqvist, Cody Franson, and Pekka Rinne will all suit up tonight for Nashville, so in that way, this game is already an encouragement to fans. Even still, though, there are an important two points at stake, so follow after the jump for more.

Lineups

Nashville

Pekka Rinne has made the trip, but we're not yet sure who'll be in net tonight.

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO

2010 - Pekka Rinne

2010 - Anders Lindback

19

16

1086

819

8

9

7

2

43

31

2.38

2.27

527

412

484

381

.918

.925

3

2

Matthew Lombardi and David Legwand will be the only two players out for Nashville tonight.

Forwards
Sullivan (A) - O'Reilly - Wilson
Kostitsyn - Goc - Erat
Dumont - Smithson - Ward
Tootoo - Spaling - Hornqvist
Defense
 Suter (A) - Weber (C)
Klein - Bouillon
Franson - O'Brien

Chicago

The Hawks, much like the Predators, have been rolling two goalies, but for performance reasons.

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO

2010 - Corey Crawford

2010 - Marty Turco

17

20

981

1136

10

8

6

8

39

58

2.39

3.06

 

453

558

414

500

.914

.896

0

1

Chicago, thankfully, will be without star forwards Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, but Viktor Stalberg
returns after a layoff.

Forwards
Sharp (A) - Toews (C) - Brouwer
Bickell - Bolland - Pisani
Kopecky - Johnson - Skille
Scott - Dowell - Stalberg
Defense
 Keith (A) - Seabrook
Campbell - Hjalmarsson
Cullimore - Boynton

Thoughts

  • Nashville's 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, and with that success has come a slightly improved power play, particularly against New Jersey. The Blackhawks only kill off 79% of their penalties, and you have to think that a power play goal tonight for either side would go a long way to deciding the game's winner.
  • It seems old hat by now, but the healthier Ryan Suter has gotten, the better Shea Weber has played. The pair is tilting the ice drastically in the Predators' favor, Suter has a six game point streak going, and Weber now has more points than both Chris Pronger and Mike Green, to name two. With the Hawks' depth suffering, six and twenty could have a big night.
  • Speaking of Chicago's depth (or lack thereof), it'll be important for the Preds' bottom six to dominate against the likes of converted defensemen John Scott and Jordan Hendry.
  • Tonight, quite simply, is an important test for both teams. The Blackhawks are only one point behind Nashville, but have played three more games. The Predators are back to almost full-strength, while Chicago will be missing two of their most important players. If there was ever a time to pick up two points against a division rival, this was it.
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