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Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks Preview: Hello Again

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Didn’t we just play the Hawks? #FreeGirard #HealthyScratchMcLeod

The Predators return to the United Center tonight on a quick one-game road trip for a chance at revenge against their best friends, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both the Preds and the Hawks have had two days off since they last played.

The Hawks have lost three games in the last week and are looking for some spark by changing up their line combinations.

Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford have both been excellent this season, and I fully expect more goaltending excellence tonight. Rinne has a .933% SVC in 7 games, and Crawford boasts a .937% in 8 games played.

With plenty of rest, both teams will be looking to secure a win in the United Center tonight. Here’s to not hearing “Chelsea Dagger.” *raises glass*

The Foes

The Blackhawks dropped a game against the Vegas Golden Knights and their third-string goaltender, Oscar Dansk, on Tuesday. They will surely be looking to grab a win.

As mentioned above, coach Joel Quenneville is looking for some results from some line combination changes. Most notably, rookie Alex DeBrincat is now on the first line, centered by captain Jonathan Toews.

Richard Panik has five goals through 10 games. He should not be underestimated.

Patrick Kane is the current points leader for the Hawks, closely followed by Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. You can certainly bet the Hawks are seeking to inflict more pain on Nashville and end their losing streak.

The Friends

In their last outing, the Predators blew a 2 goal lead against Calgary at home and eventually lost in the shootout. Pekka Rinne made some huge saves to keep the turtling Preds in the game.

Filip Forsberg is tied for the team record in October points. Filtober?

The Predators are chugging away on the power play this season, but struggling at 5-on-5 hockey. Of their 23 goals, only 10 have been scored at even strength.

Coach Laviolette mentioned after Tuesday’s game that their 5-on-5 play needed work.

The boys in gold need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey…60 minutes that ideally doesn’t involve blowing a lead.

The most important question for this game is Cody McLeod. McLeod did not play against Chicago earlier this month.

Tuesday, we saw his ice time limited because of the pace of the game and his liabilities. Will HCPL dress McLeod, or slot in Mikka Salomaki and adjust the fourth line? I know what my choice would be.

Further, key names like Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith, and Pontus Aberg need to step up. Aberg has generally been a disappointment, taking bad penalties and contributing nothing. Ryan Johansen hasn’t scored a goal yet, although he has 6 assists in his last 5 games. The Predators seem to be relying too much on Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson. There are 10 other Predators who need to do work.

An often-shifting third defensive pairing leaves many fans questioning why rookie Samuel Girard is not dressing in games. Underwhelming results from Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, and Anthony Bitetto have many fans seeking to #FreeGirard. During Thursday’s practice, Roman Josi and Girard were paired up.

Memories and Feelings

The last time the Preds were in the United Center, a Brandon Saad tip-in in OT resulted in a tough loss.

Perhaps this time Matt Irwin’s stick won’t be launched into space.

Reasons to Watch

  • The Predators need a big Central Division win tonight.
  • Both the Preds and the Hawks are looking for some line chemistry...will they find it
  • Some rivalry hockey is a great way to end the week!
  • #FreeGirard
  • #HealthyScratchMcLeod

Theme Song

“Hello Again” by The Cars.

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will once again be broadcast on the NHL Network, as well as Fox Sports-TN. 102.5 The Game will have the live call by Pete Weber and Hal Gill. I know I’m tuning into FSTN to see Chris Mason’s sweet suits and ties. Puck drop is at 7:30 central.