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Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators preview: Call In Mrs. O'Leary's Cow

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Chicago has good reason to fear the Toof.
Chicago has good reason to fear the Toof.

"We want to keep beating them," center David Legwand said. "Any two points you can get against them and try to break their pride and break their season, obviously, is a huge thing for us."

- Nashville City Paper, 12/22/2011

Legwand spoke those words while referring to the Washington Generals Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this season, but tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators have just such an opportunity against the Chicago Blackhawks, too. So far, the Preds are 2-0-1 against their rivals from the Windy City, and can make the Hawks' lives pretty miserable with another win tonight.

Follow after the jump for the breakdown!

Find great deals on tickets for this game at TiqIQ!

Tale Of The Tape

Chicago (29-20-7) at Nashville (32-18-6)
CHI Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. CHI Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
CHI Offense 2.8 (4th) 32.0 (4th) 8.6 (11th) 2.7 (24th) 28.2 (7th) 905 (27th) CHI Defense
NSH Defense 2.3 (9th) 31.0 (28th) 926 (7th) 2.3 (16th) 27.1 (25th) 8.6 (11th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
CHI 5-on-4 5.5 (17th) 50.1 (11th) 10.9 (20th) 8.0 (29th) 58.5 (30th) 863 (22nd) CHI 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 7.0 (24th) 52.7 (22nd) 867 (18th) 7.6 (2nd) 48.8 (15th) 15.5 (2nd) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %

The Blackhawks have two serious holes in their game - goaltending has been underwhelming, and the penalty killing is atrocious. That could end up matching well with Nashville's strengths, working in the Preds' favor.

Chicago Blackhawks

Things are getting rough indeed in Chicago, where there's even some talk that head coach Joel Quenneville's job could be on the line if things don't get turned around:

Yes, the unthinkable has crept into the conversation now that the Hawks have lost eight consecutive games and 10 straight on the road while sinking fast in the Western Conference standings.

Here's the reason a coaching change should at least be considered: The Hawks show no signs of coming out of their slump. This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to a losing skid. It's a reaction to big-picture problems brought out to light by the losing streak. Something has to change.

- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Chicago

It's kind of nuts that things have come to this, but an 0-7-1 streak will do that to a town (just check out the frustration over at Second City Hockey). There's even been speculation that in order to fill that gaping hole in goal, the Blackhawks might swing for the fences, and trade the struggling Patrick Kane for a star like Buffalo's Ryan Miller.

Patrick Kane

#88 / Right Wing / Chicago Blackhawks



Nov 19, 1988

2011 - Patrick Kane 56 12 33 45 9 30 2 0 2 172 6.9

Kane is on pace for the lowest goal-scoring totals of his 5-year NHL career, but I'm guessing that teams would be lining up to acquire a major offensive talent who's locked up at a $6.3 million cap hit through the summer of 2015.

The scary thing is that even with Kane sputtering, Chicago could see Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp all hit the 30-goal mark. So it's not like they're starving for goals up there.

Chicago Blackhawks Last 5 Games

@ Phoenix Sat 02/11 L 0 - 3
@ San Jose Fri 02/10 L 3 - 5
@ Colorado Tue 02/07 L 2 - 5
@ Calgary Fri 02/03 L 1 - 3
@ Edmonton Thu 02/02 L 4 - 8

Nashville Predators

While we're thinking about that Chicago attack, the first thing we want to see out of the Predators tonight is a strong defensive effort; team defense apparently took a vacation over the All Star break and hasn't come back from the Bahamas yet. Nashville wants to keep the pace deliberate in this one, and avoid skating up and down the rink trading chances with the Hawks.

One guy to keep an eye on? The aforementioned David Legwand, who has often done well at Chicago's expense. In 60 career games against the Blackhawks, he has 19 goals and 32 assists for 51 points, his best points-per-game rate against a Western Conference opponent.

David Legwand

#11 / Center / Nashville Predators



Aug 17, 1980

2011 - David Legwand 52 13 20 33 0 18 4 0 2 93 14.0

It's been almost a month since his last goal (January 16 against the Islanders), so tonight would be a good time to break that drought.

Western Standings

Detroit Red Wings 57 38-17-2 78
Vancouver Canucks 56 35-15-6 76
San Jose Sharks 54 31-17-6 68
St. Louis Blues 55 34-14-7 75
Nashville Predators 56 32-18-6 70
Chicago Blackhawks 56 29-20-7 65
Los Angeles Kings 57 27-19-11 65
Phoenix Coyotes 57 27-21-9 63
Calgary Flames 56 26-22-8 60
Colorado Avalanche 57 28-25-4 60
Dallas Stars 55 28-24-3 59
Minnesota Wild 55 25-22-8 58
Anaheim Ducks 55 22-24-9 53
Edmonton Oilers 55 22-28-5 49
Columbus Blue Jackets 56 16-34-6 38

Here, then, is the opportunity - a regulation win tonight, and the Predators give themselves a healthy cushion over Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix for 5th place in the Western Conference, and keep St. Louis & Detroit within reach above them. Can the Preds do themselves such a favor with a strong effort this evening?

Get down to Bridgestone Arena, or tune in on FS-TN to find out!