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Your #1 Source for Nashville Predators News, Updates, and Opinions – A Nashville Predators Blog

Predatorial Pregame Warmup: December 17th, 2013

pregame

Dec 17, 2013



Written by: Patten Fuqua

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Last updated: December 17, 2013 at 11:43 am

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Nashville Predators (16-14-3) vs Chicago Blackhawks (24-7-5)
Gametime: 7:00pm CT / 8:00pm ET
Television: FS-Tennessee
Radio: 102.5 The Game

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Injuries

Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne (hip), Filip Forsberg (upper body injury)

Chicago Blackhawks - Corey Crawford (lower body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body)

Projected Goaltending Matchup

Carter Hutton, 7-3-1, 0 SO, 0.913Sv%, 2.76GAA

VS

Antti Raanta, 6-1-1, 0 SO, 0.915Sv%, 2.41GAA

Keep an eye on...

Nashville Predators -

Carter Hutton - Hutton started at the bottom…now he’s here. Last season, Hutton made his NHL debut with these same Chicago Blackhawks (and – were he still in the Blackhawks organization, would likely be in net during this game either way) in the season finale against the St. Louis Blues. After a stretch earlier this season in which Hutton allowed 24 goals over the course of six games, racking up a .841 save percentage and 4.78 GAA, it appeared that Hutton might have been above his head at the NHL level.

After Marek Mazanec had his own struggles, Barry Trotz put Hutton back in net at Madison Square Garden and the 27-year-old goaltender has been nothing short of brilliant, allowing just four goals in 101 shots during that stretch and winning three straight games. It was enough for Hutton to earn the NHL’s Third Star of the Week last week and silence his doubters for the time being.

Chicago Blackhawks -

Patrick Kane – Always a force to be reckoned with, Patrick Kane is on an exceptional streak as of late – even for him. Kane has registered a point in each of his last nine games, scoring 17 points (4 G – 13 A) in that stretch. Second in the NHL in scoring with 45 points and tied for third in goals with 19, Kane is in the midst of one of the best years of an already remarkable career.

His career-best goal-scoring season was 30…and not even halfway through the 2013-14 campaign, he is on pace for over 40.

In addition to his performance this season, Kane has scored a goal in five of his last six outings against the Predators. While he has not faced Carter Hutton in game competition, he faced him in practice last season with Chicago.

Main Storylines

Nashville Predators -

The Predators are red hot…or at least not ice cold. With three wins in their last three games and both the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, Nashville is rolling with a more steam than they have at any point this season. So far this season, this Predators team has either been hot or cold and hasn’t been much in between.

Right now, they are in a “hot” stretch and during those stretches they can (and  have) stay with and beat most any team in the league. However, when the team enters into a cold stretch, they are very, very, very cold.

The Predators do not necessarily need to win this game to show signs of progress. Even a loss in which the team puts shots on net, scores goals and has a relative chance to win would be a sign of a turning point.

Chicago Blackhawks -

The Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and they are playing like it.

Through 36 games, Chicago has an NHL-best 53 points.

The Blackhawks have also won four of their last five games. In all four wins, they scored more than three goals – in three of the four wins they scored at least six. This season, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals on 14 different occasions.

However, in the Blackhawks’ lone loss in the last five games, they allowed Toronto to score seven goals.

So far this season, 21 of the Blackhawks 24 wins have come when the team scores three or more goals.

Last time out...

On November 16, the Predators managed to put up a touchdown on the Blackhawks.

Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling scored within a minute of each other in the first period, Patric Hornqvist and Craig Smith added to the onslaught in the second.

Patrick Kane and Brandon Pirri tried to make a game out of it by closing the lead to 4-2, but Viktor Stalberg, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher put the game out of reach and completed the rout.

Smith finished with 3 points while Marek Mazanec saved 39 of 41 shots in the win. Nikolai Khabibulin started the came for Chicago but was injured in the first period. Corey Crawford entered the game in relief and allowed five goals on 22 shots while taking the loss.

One interesting fact...

Chicago is 18-0-3 when they score first. The Predators are 13-1-2.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua