|Chicago Blackhawks||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Save %||.921||18th||.947||2nd|
|# of PP's/Gm||4.27||13th||3.45||26th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.73||7th||3.82||9th|
The Blackhawks are an offensive dynamo, presenting the greatest challenge yet to the defense & goaltending which has helped the Predators earn 14 points in 11 games.
This is the first meeting between the Preds & Hawks this season. In 2011-2012, Nashville went 4-1-1 against Chicago.
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They're pretty much giddy in Chicago to see how Patrick Kane has started the season, as he stands 2nd in league scoring with 8 goals and 10 assists. There were questions last year about whether the Hawks might best be served by trading away the young playmaker, but that's been set aside now. Does credit for this maturation go to his time over in Europe during the lockout?
Every off season we have wondered when Kane is going to "grow up" and take that next step towards super stardom. We all know Kaner's off ice reputation and incidents all too well. For years we've heard jokes about shirtless limo rides, upstate New York cab drivers and Cinco De Mayo parties gone haywire. We have seen his defensive lapses and many nights where he has looked like his head and heart just aren't into the game. We have been hearing him say all the right things at the start of every training camp. I really think playing in Europe during the lockout was the best thing to ever happen to him. We have seen a more mature and focused Patrick Kane this year and I have to believe that his time in Switzerland has a lot to do with the results we've enjoyed this year.
Over the course of his career, Kane has 11 goals & 16 assists for 27 points in 31 games against Nashville.
According to Daily Faceoff, here are the lines and d-pairings Chicago is using right now:
|Brandon Saad||Jonathan Toews||Marian Hossa|
|Patrick Sharp||Dave Bolland||Patrick Kane|
|Bryan Bickell||Andrew Shaw||Viktor Stalberg|
|Michael Frolik||Marcus Kruger||Jamal Mayers|
|Duncan Keith||Brent Seabrook|
|Sheldon Brookbank||Nick Leddy|
|Johnny Oduya||Niklas Hjalmarsson|
The Predators don't have any time to stew over last night's controversial overtime loss at Minnesota, and instead need to focus on bringing a strong effort against a Blackhawks team which hasn't played since Thursday at Phoenix. Chicago has been waiting & practicing here in Nashville while the Preds went up to play the Wild, so you can expect them to establish a high tempo right from the opening faceoff.
After having last night off, Pekka Rinne is expected to get the start, and the Predators will need him at his best. He's 10-7-1 all-time against Chicago, with a 2.44 GAA, .919 save percentage, and one shutout.
Will last night's loss lead to Barry Trotz making any lineup changes? It's been a while since Matt Halischuk hit the ice (the San Jose game on February 2), but going with seven defense seems to be working pretty well for the Predators.
The Preds will not have a morning skate today given their late-night arrival from Minnesota, so we may not hear about lineup decisions until later in the afternoon. Check back later for updates, and join us in the Game Thread for a 7:00 p.m. start!