Predators vs. Blackhawks Game Day Preview

Chicago's dynamic duo is at it again...

The Nashville Predators cross swords with division rival Chicago for the first time this season tonight at the United Center (7:30 p.m. on FS-TN), in a matchup which will challenge the Predators once again to work as a team to contain on the NHL's most talented squads. Follow after the jump for your breakdown!

The Stats

As always, we being with the Tale of the Tape:

Nashville (5-4-1) at Chicago (6-2-2)
NSH Offense vs. CHI Defense CHI Offense vs. NSH Defense
5-on-5
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
 NSH Offense   2.2 (17th)   23.1 (28th)  9.6 (5th)  2.3 (16th)   32.2 (27th)   927 (10th)   NSH Defense 
 CHI Defense 2.4 (18th) 27.6 (7th)  913 (8th)  2.9 (4th) 32.4 (7th) 8.9 (22nd)  CHI Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
NSH PP vs. CHI PK CHI PP vs. NSH PK
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
 NSH 5-on-4 5.8 (15th) 41.7 (25th)  14.0 (12th)  4.0 (5th) 53.9 (22nd) 926 (4th)  NSH 4-on-5
 CHI 4-on-5 2.1 (2nd) 48.6 (14th) 957 (2nd) 3.2 (27th) 52.2 (11th) 6.1 (28th)  CHI 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

The Blackhawks are playing solid hockey in 5-on-5 these days, regularly outshooting opponents, but their penalty killing isn't likely to be as good as those green cells indicate. A Save Percentage on the PK of .957 is unsustainable, so there may be opportunity there for the Predators if they can work a few power plays. The challenge there is that Chicago takes relatively few penalties.

Chicago Blackhawks

With a 6-2-2 record, the Hawks have avoided concerns about a slow start, due to some pretty significant roster turnover from the summer. Gone are guys like Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Troy Brouwer, while they work new guys into the mix like defenseman Steve Montador, and former Predator Andrew Brunette on the wing. Tonight, they'll aim to widen their early divisional lead:


Central Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Chicago 10 6 2 2 14
Nashville 10 5 4 1 11
Detroit 9 5 4 0 10
St. Louis 11 5 6 0 10
Columbus 12 2 9 1 5

The Blackhawks are represented on SB Nation over at...

Second_city_hockey_logo_medium_medium
mock logo via Earl Sleek at Battle of California

As usual, Chicago is being led in scoring by the likes of Sharp, Kane, Bolland, Hossa and Toews, an enviable group of forwards who present a constant offensive threat. They've also added some agitators for 4th-line duty in guys like Dan Carcillo (who is suspended and will miss tonight's game) and Jamal Mayers. Jonathan Toews is the guy to watch out for, as he's posted 24 points in 23 career games against Nashville.

While the defense pairings have been shuffled around a bit, the Hawks boast a nice combination of top-end talent with experienced hands backing them up, and the goaltending is respectable. This team, as it has been for the last few years now, is a legit Stanley Cup contender that also enjoys enough room under the salary cap to make a move or two along the way to address needs for a playoff run.


Blackhawks Schedule   Last 5 Games

Columbus Sat 10/29 W 5 - 2
@ Carolina Fri 10/28 L 0 - 3
Anaheim Tue 10/25 SO - W 3 - 2
Colorado Sat 10/22 SO - L 4 - 5
@ Colorado Thu 10/20 W 3 - 1

Nashville Predators

It wouldn't be the Preds without a little adversity to fight through, would it? Just when the team put together solid back-to-back games on home ice with a relatively healthy lineup, Mike Fisher got caught with a vicious hit from Francois Beauchemin and is out of the lineup for the time being.

UPDATE: The surprise news today is that Nick Spaling has been placed on IR, so forget about him for the rest of the week.

The likely option for now is to have Craig Smith center that second scoring line, hopefully with Sergei Kostitsyn back alongside. SK74 missed Saturday night's game after falling on his left leg after a hit in the corner against Tampa Bay Thursday. The good news, however, is that Martin Erat is back after an extended absence, giving Nashville some sorely-needed punch up front.

The report yesterday was that Ryan Thang is getting the recall from Milwaukee in order to round out the roster (unconfirmed as of yet), which will lead to interesting questions over who gets scratched tonight. Which two forwards will watch from the press box out of Niclas Bergfors, Brian McGrattan, Thang, etc.?

No matter who ultimately dresses, the team will need an all-out effort to contain the high-flying Hawks. As always, it's good to have the Big 3 in your corner to help make that happen...


Predators Schedule   Last 5 Games

Anaheim Sat 10/29 W 3 - 0
Tampa Bay Thu 10/27 W 5 - 3
San Jose Tue 10/25 L 1 - 3
@ Calgary Sat 10/22 W 2 - 0
@ Vancouver Thu 10/20 L 1 - 5
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