Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: WGN / WGN 720
Perpetually in search of a top 6 forward: On The Forecheck
We apologize for yet another late pregame thread, but the Nashville trip has made things a bit hectic around here. Tonight is the 2nd of 6 meetings with the always annoying Nashville Predators. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Nashville comes into this game hot, with their only loss in the last 7 games coming @ the Rangers, who seem to be beating just about everyone these days.
The book reads somewhat the same for the Preds as it typically does, middle of the pack in many statistical categories, very few, if any top 6 impact forwards, and generally solid goaltending. GM David Poile continues to do his early 2000s Billy Beane thing, and field a competitive team with the 2nd lowest payroll in the entire league. Having not watched a ton of Predators hockey this season, it's hard to figure out how they keep hanging around the top 8 in the league, especially when considering the competition in the ultra-competitive Central Division.
- 13th in the league in Goals/game
- 11th in GA/game
- 26th in Shots/game
- 24th in Shots Against/game
- 18th in 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio
- Leading scorer - Shea Weber with 33 points in 43 games played
The only category in which the Predators seem to excel is PP% (21.4, good for 2nd in the league), so one could easily envision a special teams loss for the Hawks if the Preds are able to keep the game tight.
Seven year, 49 million dollar man, Pekka Rinne has put up solid numbers, including a 0.924 save percentage this season, and he's always capable of stealing a game if the Hawks settle for low quality shots with minimal traffic.
As for the Men of Four Feathers, I'm assuming the same lineup as the past few games, since I haven't heard any news to the contrary. Unlike last night, the Hawks may not be able to afford sleep walking (offensively) through large portions of the game. The Predators will grind their way to quality chances when things aren't quite going their way, and the Hawks need to be able to do the same.
Thanks to some decent production on the 2nd powerplay unit, Marian Hossa takes a 7 game point streak into tonight's game. Even with the aforementioned point streak, we haven't seen an "I'm Marian Hossa and you're not game" in a while. Perhaps Hossa will lead his young linemates to an all around solid game tonight.
By my count, the Hawks are 7-1-1 on the 2nd night of a back-to-back set, but the loss and OTL both came on the road. As I mentioned in last night's wrap, the Hawks can put some space between themselves and the Preds heading into the All-Star Break, and tonight is the first step in that direction. It will take a strong road effort in Music City to obtain 2 points. Let's Go Hawks!