Hello again, old friends.
The Blackhawks and Predators will meet for the third time this season. But this time around, Bridgestone Arena is the destination for a primetime rivalry matchup on NBCSN. The two Central division clubs split the previous two games in Chicago, and this rubber match should make for an intriguing Tuesday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago has been an interesting team this year. They’ve shown signs of greatness (10 goals vs. Pittsburgh in the season-opener), but have also fell victim to inconsistent play (no winning streak larger than two). While the book is still out on the Blackhawks, they are playing well entering tonight’s matchup, and a win over Nashville tonight will give them their season’s first three-game winning streak.
Over the last 10 games, no team is generating more shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 than the Blackhawks. Their Corsi For/60 currently sits at 71.63, which is six points higher than the second place Carolina Hurricanes whom the Preds just saw. That’s crazy good. Chicago also leads the NHL in scoring chances for per 60 over that span (35.29).
Patrick Kane is back to playing at an elite level, leading Chicago with 10 points over those 10 games. The Blackhawks have also witnessed their secondary scorers come to life recently, with Kane’s line mate Artem Anisimov and rookie phenom Alex DeBrincat each recording hat tricks in the last two weeks.
Corey Crawford has been very solid in net, but after starting last night vs. Anaheim, all indications are that Anton Forsberg will make his Chicago debut in Nashville. A little background on Forsberg: he just celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday and had promising results in the AHL with the Cleveland Monsters (then known as the Lake Erie Monsters), going 9-0 with a 1.34 goals allowed average and .949 save percentage in the 2015-16 playoffs.
But at the highest level with the Blue Jackets, Forsberg owns a career stat line of 1-8, 4.02 goals allowed average and .879 save percentage. He was acquired by Chicago in the deal which flipped Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad.
The Nashville Predators
Having just played a high volume Carolina team, the Predators should be better prepared to face a team with a similar style.
Nashville allowed a season-high 34 scoring chances against the Hurricanes, and now faces a scorching Chicago team coming off a seven goal night against the Ducks. On paper, this is a game primed to be high-scoring, especially with Forsberg starting for Chicago. With that said, the Blackhawks will likely aim to get on the board early in hopes of quieting the Smashville crowd in order to help their young goalie settle in.
Offensively, I look for big things out of the JOFA line tonight. Ryan Johansen had a team-high five shots on goal at Carolina, which is great to see. He’s playing great hockey right now and he’ll find the back of the net again soon. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson are also in line for big nights if this turns into a shootout.
For the Preds, it’s another opportunity for a statement performance, with a win tonight moving them to 7-2 vs. the division.
Reasons to Watch
- It’s the first home meeting vs. Chicago since last season’s playoff sweep. It’s gonna be loud in Bridgestone Arena.
- A win tonight will tie a Predators record with 21 points in November.
- Pekka Rinne will make his return between the pipes after his dazzling shutout vs. St. Louis.
- Mattias Ekholm has potted five goals in his last seven games.
“Just listen to this crowd, they’ll take you home.”
You can also take a trip down memory lane with these tweets.
Watch and Listen
No Fox Sports Tennessee broadcast tonight. Chris Cuthbert and Brian Boucher will have the call on NBC Sports Network, and if you’re looking for the radio call, 102.5 The Game is the place to go.