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Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks Preview: Mid-Winter Cleaning

Our least favorite Central Division team will be in the Tire Barn tonight.

USA Today Sports

Our Nashville Predators face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in tonight’s matchup. Per usual, Chicago games are filled with passionate hate for the players with a side of salty Chicago fans sprinkled throughout Bridgestone. No one really likes seeing them in our home barn, but they come out in droves celebrating their three Cups from years past.

Even after a massive re-tooling, the Chicago Blackhawks are still struggling over halfway through this season. Perhaps their biggest loss was that of goaltender Corey Crawford, an absolutely stellar goalie throughout the first portion of the season. Crawford was essentially carrying a lackluster team that just couldn’t find a higher gear after changes in personnel in the off-season.

Side note: it was excellent to see Patrick Kane widely ignored for a majority of the All-Star Game last weekend.

The Chicago Blackhawks

In their most recent outing against the Red Wings, the Blackhawks pulled off a 5-1 victory, mostly thanks to rookie Alex DeBrincat’s hat trick. The goalie tandem of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass has been average. They’ve managed to keep Chicago out of the depths of the League standings, but neither has been outstanding or Crawford-caliber.

Much-loathed Patrick Kane leads the Hawks in scoring with 49 points. Closely following Kane are Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat. Duncan Keith leads blueliners in points with 23... and none of those points are goals.

In a trade earlier in January, the Blackhawks acquired forward Anthony Duclair from the Arizona Coyotes for Richard Panik. This trade really made no sense for the Coyotes, but the Hawks gained a young forward who might be able to improve on his previous successful seasons in Arizona.

Forsberg posts a .909 save percentage, and Glass has a .910 percentage in 9 games played.

The Blackhawks aren’t exactly in meltdown mode yet, but they’re very close to the red line. They’re 23-19-7 on the season. Chicago sits very close to the bottom of the Western Conference standings, only better than Edmonton, Vancouver, and Arizona. They are four points away from a Wild Card.

Behind the bench, head coach Joel Quenneville isn’t on the hot seat quite yet, but if Chicago doesn’t make the playoffs this year, expect the fire under him to be a little hotter.

The Nashville Predators

When we last saw our Predators, they had points in their last eight games with no regulation losses in that span. Their last regulation loss was against Vegas at the beginning of January. It’s safe to say that even without Filip Forsberg, this team is finding a way to put pucks in the net when it counts the most.

P.K. Subban still leads the team in points, followed by Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and Kevin Fiala.

From the bye week, young Juuse Saros has continued to impress with some excellent performances in goal. Remember, a rested Rinne is a happy Rinne. Expect to see more starts from the younger Finn as the calendar turns to spring. Saros has a .926 SVC, and his elder goaltending partner Rinne has a .927. We are golden in goal with these two minding the crease.

It is very likely we will see Filip Forsberg back in the next few days. He’s been practicing, to include shooting and passing. As of Monday’s practice, Forsberg was back in a regular jersey and appeared on the top line with linemates Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen.

Cody McLeod was waived right before the All-Star break, and he was picked up by the New York Rangers.

At the All-Star Game, we saw ridiculous spinning saves from Rinne and an amazing breakaway goal by none other than Sir Subban. Coach Laviolette also represented the Preds, coaching the Central Division team.

I can’t stop watching this.

Memories and Feelings

-I’m not sure if I’m fully recovered from the OT loss to Chicago at the United Center earlier in the season. I doubt the players have forgotten that ridiculous loss either…

-Who doesn’t like to see a good old-fashioned rivalry game? Don’t kid yourselves. Nashville-Chicago is one of the biggest rivalries in the NHL right now.

Reasons to Watch

-You can see the Preds back in action tonight after a long break.

-It’s a Chicago game. There’s gonna be some salt tonight at Bridgestone. You can’t miss this. Show up with brooms for bonus points.

-The Return of the Prince?

-NBC Sports will surely have many positive things to say about the struggling Blackhawks and very few nice things to say about our powerful Predators. Eye roll. Be prepared for some anti-NBC Sports signs and possibly some trolling.

Tonight’s Theme Song

In a 90s throwback, tonight’s theme song is “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba. Nothing is gonna keep these Preds down.

NB: This will be the first time the Predators are entirely healthy THIS SEASON with Ryan Ellis and Forsberg back in the lineup. If that doesn’t excite you, perhaps you should check your pulse.

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. Be prepared to listen to how magical Chicago is on the NBC Sports broadcast. You can hear a less biased radio call on 102.5 The Game. Puck drop is at 7pm.