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:
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|