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Game 45: Nashville @ Chicago – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a word: complete. Claiming the division and conference by a staggering 10 point lead over the Anaheim Ducks, riding a six-game win streak all on the way to a possible President’s Trophy puts Chicago in the driver’s seat to what many experts feel is a lock for the Stanley Cup Final.

Nashville, as pointed out in James’ article, are relegated to moving on to next season’s hopes and the likelihood of Nashville sinking further down the standings to get an elite pick at this year’s NHL entry draft. Names like Jones, Mackinnon and Drouin are salivating the tongues of Predators fans and the anticipating of watching Filip Forsberg’s glimpses of future greatness is maybe enough for fans to accept the loss of the season. Kubler-Ross would characterize this as the final stage of death…but just for the sickeningly short and soul-searching 2013 season.

With Sharp and Emery out, the Blackhawks will be defending the honor of the United Center with Toews, Kane, Saad, Hossa, Crawford, Keith, Seabrook, Bickell, Stalberg…you get the idea, the Blackhawks have an answer for every team they face regardless of lineup or IR reports. Crawford is the story going into this game and the post-season. He has owned the Predators to the tune of only two goals allowed and a 2-0-0 record.

Even though Sharp is considered to be one of the Blackhawks “Pred-killers”, even without him on the ice the Blackhawks can still pound the puck down Nashville’s throat. Both Kane and Toews have four points each against Nashville, and rookie Brandon Saad has three points. The Blackhawks have so many weapons it may prove to be an insurmountable task for the Predators and more over since Nashville won’t play spoiler to anything Chicago holds dear except for losing only their 6th game in regulation (yes…you read that right).

The Nashville Predators have been officially eliminated from the playoffs and while playing the most games of any team in the West, the rest of the bottom teams have had a chance to catch up in points and games played. While playing spoiler to Detroit’s chances, the Calgary Flames jumped the Predators in position so that Nashville may get a higher pick come draft time at season’s end. The possibilities are endless with a top five pick netting that team a solid player that is probably NHL-ready and one that a franchise can start building a winning tradition with en route to the coveted Stanley Cup Finals.

After a three-day break and some on-ice practice to build some semblance of team chemistry with the merry-go-round of forwards running through the line-up with injury call-ups and such, Nashville may finally be getting something going. The rest was much needed after playing nine games in fifteen days. Rinne deserves the rest most of all after trying his damnedest to keep the Predators in the game with one of the more impressive GAA and SV% in the league with not much run support or wins to show for it. The games may not be important anymore save the outcome of finishing further down in the standings to get the upper-tier of the draft, but the fans still would like to see the Predators play spoiler to soon-to-be-leaving division rivals Detroit and Columbus by busting their playoff chances.

…On a side note speaking of busting chances…can someone explain why the two options for the NHL14 cover from the Predators are Mike Fisher and Brandon Yip??? Mike Fisher is a great player and deserves the acclaim for his consistent play but against heavyweights in the league he doesn’t stand a chance in voting. And as for Brandon Yip? The good people at EA Sports could just have easily put Scott Hannan up for the vote. Both have about as much chance of advancing in the bracket-style voting poll as Rhode Island School of Design has of football aspirations. Personally, I think a grass-roots campaign to put Rich Clune on the cover, black eye, facial lacerations and all, would have been an awesome viral promotion for the Nashville Predators (and he has the same number of points as Yip).

Game time is at 7:30 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed nationally on NBC Sports Network or locally on Fox Sports South. 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.


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