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Game 36: Nashville @ Chicago – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

The Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks are facing off for only the second time this year. While this may be a blessing to the Predators to not face the mighty Blackhawks too often early, it’ll be a true test to see if Nashville is playoff ready/worthy after they play Chicago four more times before the end of the season. Chicago comes back to the United Center after embarrassing the Red Wings 7-1 on Gordie Howe’s birthday and Nashville is playing the first of a back-to-back with Colorado coming to Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night. Here’s hoping the Predators can give this faithful blogger a nice pair of birthday presents in four much-needed points (April 2nd for my shameless self-promotion).

Chicago has been a monster of a team with many picking them to take it all the way to a Stanley Cup winning post-season. They started the year on a stellar run and have goal support coming from everywhere, especially Patrick Kane who has rebounded from a disappointing year to post amazing numbers (18 goals, 42 points, leads team in both).

Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, long time thorns in the Predator’s side, may be back in the lineup against Nashville on Monday night. Chicago has fared well without this top offensive talent posting 29 goals in their last 7 games (4-3-0). The Blackhawks still lead the Western Conference and Ray Emery has been stellar between the pipes with a record of 12-1-0 with one shutout. His first loss of the season was against the equally hot Anaheim Ducks on March 29th where he allowed only two goals. Even if Ray Emery doesn’t get the start on the back-to-back, Corey Crawford has 14 wins on the season, so this tandem is a sure bet to keep things interesting going into the playoffs.

The Predators are a tale of two teams. On one hand they managed to get six out of a possible eight points in their last home-stand, but on the other they allowed six goals in the first period against the Phoenix Coyotes (five in the first 10 minutes) losing 7-4 and couldn’t score one goal against the Western Conference’s bottom team, the Colorado Avalanche. Injuries to key players are forcing a hodge-podge of different line combinations and the game plan is all too predictable. Having Fisher take a puck off the hand in the dying minutes of an out-of-control game put Gaustad on the top line. Although Gaustad hustled and created chances, he also made some questionable choices that could have easily gone in the back of the Predators net if not for the phenomenal play of Pekka Rinne.

After getting shelled for four goals in the Phoenix game, Pekka Rinne came back with a vengeance and kept the Predators full in the game for 60 minutes against Colorado. Semyon Varlamov played an amazing game robbing four different opportunities from the Predators that any other night would have lit the lamp.

The Predators have to find their identity soon and start playing as if their playoff hopes can be decided each game because in a very real way…it is. While playing the most games in the Conference, the Predators cannot leave any more points on the table and their schedule is only getting harder as the season comes to a close (Chicago 4 times, Detroit twice, Columbus twice, Dallas, Colorado, Calgary, Vancouver, St. Louis).

Game time is at 7:30 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on FS Tennessee. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.


Stay HardCore…