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Game 57: Chicago @ Nashville – Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart


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Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks are on an epic slide going 0-7-1 in their last eight games. This stumble began with a back-to-back matchup against the Predators where Nashville won both games and has loomed large over the Blackhawks going into tonight.

Nashville has been mediocre since the All-Star break with a 2-2-2 record. Rinne has been uncharacteristically letting in a few more goals than the norm, but the defense has not been clearing the lanes and crease as they did in the month of January.

Coming down the stretch, these type of games are very important…for Chicago, it will be trying to get back to their winning ways….for Nashville, it’ll be trying to achieve the success they relished in January. If you can get tickets to what should be a sold-out Bridgestone Arena, bring your sweetheart out for a fun-filled evening and hopefully a Predators win…Game time is 7 P.M. Central.

This Year’s Series: 2-0-1 Home (1-0-0) Away (1-0-1)

Looking at the Blackhawks: The recent troubles for Chicago have many questioning who should be behind the bench. Coach Quennville has been on the hot seat before but the 8 game losing streak has turned up the burner.

One of the big reasons for the lack of wins is very inconsistent goaltending. Corey Crawford who was slated to have the majority of the starting duties and perform admirably has not lived up to the billing. Ray Emery has had flashes of success but his mobility has become a concern. Emery has allowed 10 goals in his last 3 starts and Crawford has sieved for 19 goals in his last five starts.

Looking at the Predators: Most would consider a shootout loss to be disappointing and the Predators are no different. For the avid Predators fan after watching the play of last Saturday’s game, many are more than thrilled Nashville got out of Boston with even one point.

One of the shining lights over the course of two months has been the play of Martin Erat and Mike Fisher. Fisher is tied for the team lead in goals with 17 along with Patric Hornqvist, and Erat has set a prime example with 2 goals, 4 assists in his last five games.

For the Blackhawks to win: Take a look at the calender. The Blackhawks have to play with some urgency and what better way to exorcise the losing streak than ending it against the team that started it. The goaltending has to be top notch down the stretch unless Chicago makes a trade before the deadline to snatch up a competent netminder.

The major offensive threat for Chicago is their big three: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. In their last 5 games, they have combined for a paltry 5 points and only 1 goal (Marian Hossa hasn’t contributed any points in the last five games). The playmakers for Chicago have to lead by example and force other teams to take notice of their skill. Chicago doesn’t have the depth in forward to allow for scoring by committee as the 8 game skid has obviously proved.

For the Predators to win: Don’t come out flat. Too often since the All-Star break the Predators have ho-hummed through the first 30 minutes of hockey. NEWSFLASH…the game is 60 minutes and in the stretch run to the playoffs it would benefit the Predators to remember that simple fact.

Pekka Rinne can steal games, but it is next to impossible to do this when your defense is screening the shot or not clearing out the zone. Too many bonehead plays like not clearing on the PK or allowing an aggressive forecheck to pin the defense in their zone lead to too many chances for Boston. Albeit Boston is one of the best forechecking teams in the NHL, the Predators have confident puck-moving defensemen like Suter and Josi that can take the puck solidly into the opponent’s offensive zone.

The crowd will be drunk on chocolate and big Valentine’s Day dinners, it is up to the boys in Gold to get the crowd out of their seats and cheer on a solid win that would help the Predators climb back into division-leading contention.

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Stay HardCore, friends