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Make Your Own History: Blackhawks-Predators Preview

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The Blackhawks seek to keep their playoff hopes alive in Friday’s contest with the Predators.

Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

As the 2021 regular season inches closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks fate is still yet to be decided. Chicago will be in search of the two vital points needed to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face off at the United Center against the Predators for the final time this season.

Heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against Nashville, the Blackhawks were still seeking their first victory against their Central Division rival. In a game that seemed to be out of reach, The Blackhawks battled back from being down 4-1 midway through the third period to a 5-4 victory in overtime. The resilient, late-game comeback stands to be one of the biggest in the Blackhawks’ modern era.

The good news for the Blackhawks is that their recent victory over the Predators keeps their playoff hopes alive. The bad news is that forcing overtime came with the hefty price tag of giving a point to Nashville, something that the Blackhawks cannot afford to do on Friday night.

The NHL has seen several lockout-shortened seasons in the past. However, the 2021 season’s shortened schedule is unique in that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams have been restricted to divisional play only. The implications of both regulation and overtime losses is something that all teams seeking a playoff spot are dealing with.

The Blackhawks currently find themselves two places out of a playoff spot, three points behind the Predators and one point behind the Stars. Not only is a Blackhawks victory in Friday night’s matchup mandatory, but Chicago will also benefit greatly if the Red Wings can play spoiler to the Stars once more on Saturday. I will never advocate cheering for Detroit, so let’s just chalk this up as “hoping Dallas doesn’t win”.

Wednesday night continued the Blackhawks’ trend of losing defenseman ( ... and helmets) as Calvin de Haan left the game early due to the same nagging hip pointer injury that’s been bothering him for a while. That won’t be an issue in this one, as coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed at the morning skate that de Haan is out and Nicolas Beaudin is back in the lineup.

Malcolm Subban, who was key in Wednesday night’s victory, will get another look in net.

Without Jonathan Toews or Brent Seabrook in the locker room, there has been a noticeable absence of vocal leadership that the Blackhawks organization has been accustomed to. Between the players and coaching staff, they’re going to need to find a way to get fired up for their season series finale against Nashville. Maybe someone gives a speech to the likes of Braveheart or Any Given Sunday. Ducks fly together, so why can’t the Hawks?

Guess we’ll find out if Collition can find a way to play the role of Herb Brooks for the evening or if the Hawks miracle already came in the form of Wednesday’s victory.

Let’s Go Hawks!

Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators

47.07% (26th) — 5-on-5 Corsi for — 50.44% (14th)

45.49% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.66 (18th)

2.76 (19th) — Goals per game — 2.57 (25th)

3.09 (20th) — Goals against per game — 2.81 (15th)

46.8% (28th) — Faceoffs — 51.6% (8th)

23.6% (7th) — Power play — 18.3% (22nd)

75.8% (27th) — Penalty kill — 75.0% (29th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hinostroza — Suter — Kane

DeBrincat — Dach — Hagel

Kubalik — Kurashev — TBD

Connolly — Kampf — Carpenter

Kalynuk — Murphy

Keith — Boqvist

Stillman — Zadorov

Beaudin

Subban

Lankinen

Predators

Tolvanen — Johansen — Arvidsson

Jarnrok — Granlund — Kunin

Cousins — Haula — Duchene

Trenin — Sissons — Jeannot

Josi — Gudbranson

Ekholm — Ellis

Harpur — Benning

Saros/Rinne

How to watch

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Live stream: NBC Sports app