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Here We Go Again: Blackhawks-Predators Preview

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The Blackhawks head to Nashville for first of three crucial games.

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Monday’s game in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena will host an elated Blackhawks team fresh off a 4-0 win against the Red Wings on Saturday, the final game between those two teams this season.

It was Malcolm Subban’s second shutout of the season, thanks to 29 saves on 29 shots. But don’t worry fans: action, adventure — and possible heartbreak — awaits us on Monday night as the Blackhawks (21-19-5) have lost every game against the Predators (24-21-1) this season.

Monday’s game will be the first of three attempts this week for the Blackhawks to redeem those losses.

It’s been a minute since the Hawks have seen the Predators, and that game on April 3 resulted in a 3-0 shutout of the Hawks, with Juuse Saros (.928 save percentage this season) stopping all 41 shots attempts versus just 18 for Kevin Lankinen (.914), as Chicago controlled much of the action. That game marked Saros’s 13th career shutout.

“Hockey’s a weird game,” remarked Dylan Strome after that last matchup. “It’s frustrating, but we have to find a way to climb out of this little hole we’re in and get some wins.”

Duncan Keith mirrored Strome’s frustration, recognizing that “every goal is huge, especially this time of year, and it’s be nice to try to get that first one and carry some momentum.”

The importance of the Blackhawks winning this game cannot be understated if they want to secure a playoff spot, which remains a possibility considering that they’re just two points behind the fourth-place Predators. But the Blackhawks have historically not performed well in the final legs of past seasons and considering their inconsistency in 2021, the outcome of Monday’s game is up in the air.

Prior to Monday’s game, the Predators lost twice in a tough matchup against the top-tiered Hurricanes. Nashville goalie Juuse Saros has played some impressive games this season: in the last month alone, he has four games with at least 40 saves, including the one on April 3 against Chicago. He’ll be in net again for Monday’s game and will be one of Nashville’s most important factors, especially considering that the Predators are missing some of their essential offensive forces, including Fillip Forsberg and Eeli Tolvanen.

Patrick Kane has certainly continued to excel this season and, despite the losses, has 1 goal and 12 assists against Nashville in the last 17 games. Kane said that Nashville “play(s) a good team game, and they don’t really give up much space through the neutral zone.

“We really want to play with speed. If we have to get it in deep and have to forecheck and do it that way, that’s what it is. We have to find a way to beat these guys.”
- Kane on Nashville

Since this last match up, the Blackhawks have dropped from third to seventh place in power play percentage, while the Predators are now 22nd after being 16th earlier. In terms of penalty kill percentage, the teams are neck-and-neck as the Hawks sit 29th versus the Predators in 28th.

Let’s go Hawks!

Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators

46.81% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi for — 50.64% (13th)

46.67% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.62 (19th)

2.78 (18th) — Goals per game — 2.52 (26th)

3.04 (20th) — Goals against per game — 2.83 (16th)

46.7% (28th) — Faceoffs — 51.6% (8th)

23.7% (7th) — Power play — 18.9% (22th)

74.8% (29th) — Penalty kill — 74.8% (28th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

DeBrincat — Dach — Kane

Hagel — Suter — Strome

Kubalik — Kurashev — Hinostroza

Connolly — Kampf — Carpenter

Stillman — Murphy

Keith — Kalynuk

Zadorov — Mitchell

Lankinen/Subban

Predators

Grimaldi — Johansen — Arvidsson

Jarnrok — Granlund — Kunin

Cousins — Haula — Duchene

Trenin — Sissons — Jeannot

Josi — Benning

Ekholm — Ellis

Harpur — Gudbranson

Saros

Rinne

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: Bridgestone Arena

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV