|Nashville Predators||Chicago Blackhawks|
|5-on-5 Save %||.916||17th||.928||3rd|
|# of PP's/Gm||2.93||27th||3.23||20th|
|# of PK's/Gm||2.95||4th||2.90||1st|
There's a reason the Blackhawks are cruising along at the top of the league standings, lots of them actually.
Remember the days of yore when a home game against the Hawks meant a good chance for free tacos (hence Chi-taco)? They are long gone. This year, in fact, the Preds failed to score a single goal in two games at Bridgestone Arena against the Blackhawks.
Chicago is pretty much in fine-tuning mode for the playoffs, but they're still piling up the wins, going 8-0-1 in their last nine games. They are 4-0-0 against the Predators this season, and
It looked like the Blackhawks were getting healthier at just the right time, as center Patrick Sharp recently returned to the lineup after missing a month. His presence only adds to an absurd amount of offensive firepower Chicago boasts up front, but after just two games into his return, he suffered another injury and will be out for tonight's game, along with goaltender Ray Emery (ESPN).
|2012 - Patrick Sharp||26||5||13||18||+6||14||1||0||1||84||6.0|
While the Blackhawks can score with the best of them, they are also getting the job done defensively. Coming into this one, Chicago has killed off 27 of their last 28 penalties successfully.
At this point in their season the wins & losses are less important than the impression being made by young players given an opportunity to compete at the NHL level (at least that's what we tell ourselves when the boys have lost 10 of their last 11). Tonight we may another Milwaukee Admiral make his Nashville debut, as Kevin Henderson's name was brought up yesterday at practice:
"A couple of times (this year) when we were getting lean on forwards, he was the next guy to be called up," Trotz said. "He was playing well and all that, and then when we would actually need guys when everybody (on the NHL roster) was hurt, he was hurt. So he's just had some bad timing in terms of playing really well at certain times ... This is an opportunity for him to show what he can do."
--- John Glennon, The Tennessean
Henderson's a late bloomer, a 26-year-old winger who is in his 4th AHL season.
On defense, things are expected to get back to normal, with the return of Kevin Klein. The Predators will need his skating ability & experience against the Best in the West.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. Central tonight, and the game is on SportSouth, so be warned!