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Game 11: Nashville @ Chicago – Dinged Up Preds Look to Continue Streak


Photo Credit: Getty Images

UPDATE: Nick Spaling has been moved to IR after being injured in the second period of the Anaheim game. Ryan Thang has been recalled to play with the team. Finally, Sergei Kostitsyn will NOT play in tonight’s game

Collecting their second straight victory Saturday night over a chippy Anaheim team, the Nashville Predators (5-4-1) are looking to make it three in a row against a tough Central Division leading Chicago Blackhawks (6-2-2).

Last Year’s Series: 3-3-0 (2-0-0 Home, 1-1-0 Away)

Last Season’s Video Recaps:
Game 1 – October 13th, 2010:

Game 2 – November 13th, 2010:

Game 3 – December 22nd, 2010:

Game 4 – January 15th, 2011:

Game 5 – January 16th, 2011:

Game 6 – February 24th, 2011:

Looking at the Blackhawks: Getting a so-far strong start to the season from goaltender Corey Crawford, Chicago is off to a 6-2-2 start and lead the central division, only 3 points ahead of Nashville. Currently alternating wins and losses over the past 5 games, the Blackhawks earned their 4th home victory of the season on Saturday, besting Columbus 5-2 with Ray Emery in the net.

With no player on their roster in the top 50 in points scored in the entire league, as of this moment, Chicago is using a “scoring by committee” approach, similar to Nashville, to come by offense. Interesting not? Only 3 times this season has Chicago NOT scored 3 or more goals, all coming in losses (0-2-1). Chicago’s record when scoring at least 3 goals this season? 6-0-1

The Predators should know what the key to victory is now.

Looking at the Predators: After Anaheim came in and roughed up the Predators a little bit, Nashville will be without forward Mike Fisher after he took a tough blow at center ice from a blindside hit by Francois Beauchemin. Hopefully, with a possible return from Sergei Kostitsyn and a the continued presence of Martin Erat, the play of Craig Smith won’t dwindle from it’s current level.

Either way, Nashville has found a way to get pucks to the back of the net and to protect their goalie in the process, outshooting their opposition for the first time this season while allowing only 20 shots.

So, as we did with Chicago, let’s take a look at that “3 goal or more” stat.

When scoring less than 3 goals, Nashville is currently: 1-4-1

Scoring more than 3 goals? Nashville is : 4-0-0

For the Blackhawks to win: Chicago needs to take advantage of the Predators injuries and exploit line-up holes that Nashville is trying to patch up. Exploiting the defense of the Predators right now may not be an easy task as they seemed to have found their groove, only allowing 4 goals in the past 4 games (take out one bad period against Tampa and it would be 2 goals in 4 games).

If the Blackhawks can out maneuver an ailing Predators lineup and get at least three past Rinne, Chicago could cruise to victory

For the Predators to win: Keep playing stellar defense! Nashville knows that scoring 3 goals usually leads to victory for them, but allowing 3 or less goals can never hurt. With Rinne most likely starting his 11th straight game this season, he always gives the Predators a chance to win, night-in and night-out.

The problem? Maintaining the defensive posture they’ve set over the past 4 games. Giving up 33 shots to Calgary, 36 to San Jose, 32 to Tampa, and now 20 to Anaheim on Saturday, Nashville has to continue to work on preventing good shooting opportunities from their opponents and limiting their chances on net.

Playing good defense and finding ways to meet that 3-goal level will get Nashville a big win tonight in the Madhouse.


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Stay frosty, friends