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Game 48: Chicago @ Nashville – Long Time, No See


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Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

One meeting is all the Predators and Blackhawks have on the season and in the ultra-competitive Central division…it’s going to get pretty dicey between these rivals in the next four days.

 In the second meeting of the season, the first at Bridgestone Arena, the Predators are looking to gain ground on the top three of the Central Division: especially the Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago keeps rolling and finally got some production out of Patrick Kane in last night’s victory over Florida. Nashville is no slouch either winning nine out of their last eleven. Rinne posted his 4th shutout of the season in the win Thursday over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It’s a stretch run to the All-Star break where every point attained comes in handy for the end of the season and securing home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

This Year’s Series: 0-0-1 Home (0-0-0) Away (0-0-1)

Looking at the Blackhawks: Patrick Kane, until last night, was on a goal scoring drought since January 5th. Kane notched a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Toews and Hossa continue to lead the charge for the Blackhawks with 50 points each and Toews leads Chicago with 27 goals.

Corey Crawford has played decent between the pipes but the resurgence of Ray Emery (yes..the one that Nashville could score at will during the playoffs) at an astonishing 11-3-2 on the year has Chicago sitting pretty atop the Western Conference standings.

Looking at the Predators: The Predators are coming off a 3-0 shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night in what many would call a “should-win” game. The Blue Jackets peppered Rinne with rush after rush, but the Finnish giant stood tall to earn his fourth shutout of the year.

Martin Erat continues to play great hockey netting a goal and an assist Thursday to sneak within one point of team leader Shea Weber. Bouillon played admirably against Rick Nash shutting the power forward down throughout the match while the other defensive pairings did a great job of clearing the crease and blocking shots to hold the shutout.

For the Blackhawks to win: Score early. The raucous crowd at Bridgestone Arena who haven’t seen a home game since last Saturday (Predators going 2-1-0 on their road trip) adds fuel to an already volatile fanbase in Nashville. Since Nashville has had Ray Emery’s number since the playoffs it may be best for Chicago to start Corey Crawford.

Toews, Kane and Hossa are the elite level scorers on Chicago, but the secondary scoring from Stalberg, Bolland and Brunette is similar to the 3rd and 4th lines of the Predators that are known to contribute goals in timely situations. It is up to Chicago to come out guns blazing and keep Nashville on their heels.

For the Predators to win: Shut down Toews, Hossa and Kane. These players are dangerous if given time and space to maneuver the puck. Hopefully Suter will be ready to go so the best defensive tandem can lock down the best scorers for Chicago.

It is possible that new addition Brandon Yip might be in the lineup tonight as he skated yesterday in practice and Trotz stated that he would like to see Yip in tonight’s game. The question on everyone’s mind is who does Yip replace? Smith? Bourque? That and many more questions will be answered by game time tonight: 7:00 P.M. Central.

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Stay HardCore, friends