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Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks Preview: The Best in the West

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The Chicago Blackhawks burst out of the gate to seize the Central Division lead and never looked back. Tonight, the Nashville Predators need to take two points from the Best in the West.

Frederick Breedon

The Stats

Nashville Predators Chicago Blackhawks
Record 14-14-7 20th 26-5-3 2nd
GF/Game 2.43 25th 3.29 2nd
GA/Game 2.60 13th 2.09 2nd
5-on-5 SF/60 24.6 29th 30.0 9th
5-on-5 SA/60 25.8 5th 25.4 4th
Fenwick Close 47.11 23rd 54.40 4th
5-on-5 Save % .918 16th .928 3rd
5-on-4 GF/60 6.3 14th 5.1 22nd
# of PP's/Gm 3.20 23rd 3.44 20th
4-on-5 GA/60 8.4 28th 5.8 12th
# of PK's/Gm 3.17 8th 3.09 1st

Yeah, the Blackhawks are pretty freaking incredible. The dominate puck possession, have received excellent goaltending, and have the discipline to take the fewest penalties in the league. In their only previous meeting this season back on February 10, the Blackhawks came to Nashville and shut out the Predators 3-0.

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Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are in the middle of a stunning free-fall, going just 5-5 in their last 10 games. Of course, before that they had an 11-game winning streak and earned at least one point in the standings in each of their first 24 games, but hey, it's all a matter of perspective.

Left Wing Lock gives us the following lines & defense pairings from Chicago's last game, a 7-1 steamrolling of Detroit at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks are a little shorthanded due to injuries to Marian Hossa & Patrick Sharp:

Brandon Saad Jonathan Toews Michael Frolik
Patrick Kane Dave Bolland Jimmy Hayes
Daniel Carcillo Marcus Kruger Jamal Mayers
Bryan Bickell Andrew Shaw Viktor Stalberg
Duncan Keith Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson Johnny Oduya
Nick Leddy Sheldon Brookbank


Chicago Blackhawks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marian Hossa other-excused 03/19/2013
Patrick Sharp shoulder 03/07/2013

The real difference this year for Chicago has come in goal, where Corey Crawford has put together the kind of season Hawks fans have been hoping for:


Corey Crawford

#50 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks

6-2

200

Dec 31, 1984



GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2012 - Corey Crawford 20 1156 13 4 3 39 2.02 497 458 .922 2

For more on the Hawks, head over to our SB Nation comrades at Second City Hockey.

Nashville Predators

Mike Fisher is still uncertain to play tonight, so the forwards will have their work cut out for them. Will we still see Paul Gaustad centering Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn, as was the case Saturday at Colorado?

As the Predators' game notes state, David Legwand's 55 career points (19 goals & 36 assists in 64 games) against Chicago mark the most by any Predator against any other single opponent. Perhaps he can step forward to lead the team in this time of need...


David Legwand

#11 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-2

204

Aug 17, 1980



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - David Legwand 35 8 9 17 -1 16 2 0 1 55 14.5

Tonight marks the first of four contests between the Predators and Blackhawks over the next three weeks, making the road to the playoffs ever more arduous. At least after this one, eight of Nashville's final 12 games will take place on home ice. Can they take advantage?