Coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Predators are most likely not pleased with both their performance and the way the game ended as well. However, having a short memory is key in a shortened season as they make their way back to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena to faceoff against the Chicago Blackhaws.
Game time is at 7 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on FS Tennessee.
While Nashville flies back home, the Blackhawks have been in town for the past day or so and have had the pleasures of practicing and resting up in waiting for their showdown with the Predators on Sunday evening. Chicago, off to one of their best starts in their franchise history, bring a 9-0-2 record into Bridgestone Arena, having not lost a game in regulation all season long.
Led by Patrick Kane offensively, the Hawks already have four forwards eclipsing 10 points on the stat sheet (Kane/Hossa/Sharp/Toews) and all but three forwards have at least one point on the season (only Brookbank/Mayers/Bolland do not).
Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have filled the net for Chicago, both posting impressive records in their respective outings. Crawford, undoubtedly Chicago’s starting goaltender, currently has a 6-0-2 record with a 1.82 GAA and a .930 Sv%. Emery has nearly been his equal, recording a 3-0-0 record along with a 2.60 GAA and .920 Sv%. While my guess would be Crawford gets the start against Nashville, Emery wouldn’t be a surprise either.
Nashville has come back strong after a rough start that saw them begin the season 1-2-3. After winning four in a row before dropping last night’s game against the Wild, the Predators have improved themselves to one of the stingiest teams in the entire NHL and have evened out their goal differential as well.
The Predators are getting scoring help from the entire team with over 10 players recording 3 or more points in their first 11 games. Martin Erat and Colin Wilson lead the way for Nashville with 7 points. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is 4-2-3 with a 1.81 GAA and .933 Sv% after starting 0-2-3 in his first 5 games. Coming off his shutout Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings and getting rested up tonight against the Wild, Rinne should be ready to go against the Hawks and the three West Coast teams coming into Nashville this week.
For the Blackhawks to win: Pressure Nashville and be patient. While the Predators seem to thrive under pressure, teams have found that the more pressure you put on Nashville, it will eventually open up opportunities. If the Hawks force Nashville to take bad penalties, they could quickly light up the Preds on a stormy Sunday night.
For the Predators to win: Have a short memory. Nashville is, and has a right to be, upset after their loss to the Wild last night. However, after going 0-6 on the powerplay against them and losing in an overtime powerplay that ensued following a phantom call, the Predators can’t dwell on that Sunday evening. They’ll have to come out strong in front of Pekka Rinne and force their way into the Blackhawks zone to get the better of Corey Crawford.