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Game Preview : Not What We Expected

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Chicago Blackhawks (55 pts 26-5-3) vs Nashville Predators (35 pts 14-14-7) 7:30 PM United Center - Chicago, IL. TV: CSN Chicago Radio: WGN 720 AM

Jonathan Daniel

Season Series

Date Score W. Goal
Apr 19 '13
Apr 07 '13
Apr 06 '13
Apr 01 '13
Feb 10 '13 CHI 3 at NSH 0 M. Kruger

When the season began, we all figured the Nashville Predators would be one of the teams to contend with in the Central Division. Even thought the Hawks have turned the Central race into a laugher, the Preds have been a huge disappointment. The last time we saw Nashville, Corey Crawford ended the Blackhawks streak of games without a shutout that seemed to have lasted since the days of Tony Esposito. Crow will get the start tonight, which is rare considering the Hawks are playing back to back games. My guess is Q is rewarding him for his excellent game yesterday, plus he has had some extended time off before these games and the Hawks have two days off after today. In 10 career games versus Nashville Crawford is 5-4-1 with a 2.56 GAA, .902 save % and 2 shoutouts. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa will both miss tonight's game. I've said this before, but I have zero issue with the Hawks taking their time with two of their bigger star players. With the grind of the playoffs less than a month away take as many games off as you need.

I am very happy that the Hawks have Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith locked up because apparently when you break up your bromantic top D pairing, your whole team turns to crap! If the playoffs were to start today the Preds would not be part of them. They currently have 35 points and are 2 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot. Read that last sentence again and let it sink in for a moment considering the Preds put up a 104 points last season. Nashville is near the bottom of the league in scoring with a 2.43 goals per game average, well off the pace from last season's 2.83 goals per game. Pekka Rinne will most likely get the start tonight and he has been very hot and cold this season. While he leads the league in shutouts, with 5, he also has 8 games where he has given up 4 or more goals this year. Rinne has been pretty tough on the Hawks in his career. His record could be better than it is due to lack of goal support through the years. Rinne is 10-8-1 with a 2.47 GAA, .917 save % and 1 shutout in 20 career games against Chicago. Martin Erat has been an assist machine lately by assisting on 7 of the last 12 goals scored by Nashville.

Probable Blackhawks lineup

Fowards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Michael Frolik
Jimmy Hayes - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg
Dan Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Jeremy Morin

Defensive Pairings

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Michal Rozsival

Goaltender

Corey Crawford 14-4-3, 1.97 GAA, .925 save %, 2 SO

Injuries

Patrick Sharp (shoulder) OUT, Marian Hossa (upper body) OUT

Leading Scorers

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PP GW
P. Kane 34 18 24 42 14 4 8 2
J. Toews 34 17 18 35 19 23 2 3
M. Hossa 28 13 10 23 11 14 3 4
D. Keith 34 2 19 21 14 29 1 0
B. Saad 33 6 13 19 11 8 0 2

Probable Predators lineup

Fowards

Sergei Kostitsyn - Paul Gaustad - Martin Erat
Richard Clune - Craig Smith - Patric Hornqvist
Gabriel Bourque - David Legwand - Taylor Beck
Matt Halischuk - Nick Spaling - Brandon Yip

Defensive Pairings

Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Victor Bartley - Kevin Klein
Hal Gill - Jonathon Blum

Goaltender

Pekka Rinne 13-10-6, 2.34 GAA, .910 save %, 5 SO

Injuries

Mike Fisher (bruised hand) day to day, Colin Wilson (upper body) OUT, Scott Hannan (upper body) OUT

Leading Scorers

Player GP G A P +/- PIM PP GW
M. Erat 34 4 17 21 -6 26 1 1
S. Weber 35 7 13 20 2 30 3 1
M. Fisher 34 9 10 19 6 27 1 0
C. Wilson 25 7 12 19 1 4 2 1
D. Legwand 35 8 9 17 -1 16 2 1
G. Bourque 33 11 5 16 6 4 3 2

NSH
Stats
CHI
35 GP 34
14 W 26
14 L 5
7 OT 3
35 P 55
0.5 P% 0.809
2.43 G/G 3.29
2.6 GA/G 2.09
17.9 PP% 18
76.6 PK% 84.8
25.5 S/G 30.9
26.5 SA/G 26.6
50.9 FO% 49.9


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