After the Blackhawks’ 6-5 loss to the Jets on Thursday, Chicago head coach Jeremy Colliton delivered a Joel Quenneville-esque press conference. Colliton didn’t mince words and genuinely seemed angered by the team’s compete level.
If it weren’t for the improbable comeback last week in Florida, things would seem a whole lot uglier than they are.
That isn’t made any easier when they have to play two of the best teams in the Central Division within two days of each other.
The Blackhawks face off against the Predators on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. That’s no small task for the Blackhawks, who 4-8-2 on the road. If there is some optimism heading into the game, it’s that Chicago showed some fight in the last 10 minutes Thursday.
But fight doesn’t win games.
The good news is the Blackhawks will have Henri Jokiharju back after sitting out two games with an illness. Chicago has allowed 14 goals in that span.
Cam Ward will start in net for Chicago. He is 4-2-4 with a 3.90 goals-against average and .890 save percentage in 11 games during his first season with the Blackhawks.
Speaking of the Predators, after a hot start they’ve cooled off a bit after losing Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris due to various injuries. If that’s not enough, as of late Saturday afternoon, the Predators also announced that start forward Filip Forsberg is on injured reserve.
Nashville have lost three of its last four games, including a 3-0 shutout against the Coyotes on Thursday in its last outing. Former Blackhawk Nick Schmaltz burying a goal and picking up an assist.
The Predators didn’t handle the loss well.
The Predators held a brisk, pissed-off practice today. Ryan Hartman hurled the shaft of his broken shift into the stands. Craig Smith snapped his stick and spiked the shards into the bench.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) November 30, 2018
Former Blackhawk and current Predators forward Ryan Hartman will face Chicago for the first time since being traded last February. The West Dundee native has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 26 games this season.
Nashville recalled winger Eeli Tolvanen from the AHL early Saturday morning. Tolvanen has four goals and 11 points in 21 AHL games in his rookie North American season. The 2017 first-round draft pick did not record a point in three NHL games last spring. The Predators held an optional skate Saturday, therefore the projected lineup is based on Thursday’s game.
Tolvanen’s call up preceded the Forsberg to IR announcement
The Blackhawks must start strong and not give early period goals as they’ve done all too often lately.
Nashville is a team that can score seemingly at will with the offensive firepower on its roster. The Blackhawks defense needs to limit turnovers because those result in high-danger chances for the opposition like Winnipeg and Vegas earlier this week.
After how angry Colliton in Winnipeg, I’m expecting the Blackhawks to respond.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville