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You’re On Your Own, Kid: Blackhawks vs. Predators Preview

A matchup at the bottom of the Central division,

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NHL: APR 16 Blackhawks at Predators
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Taylor Raddysh and Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin in NHL action
Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the midst of a seven-game losing streak, the Chicago Blackhawks come across a team having a similarly down season in the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night at the United Center.

The Predators are near the bottom ten in Corsi and expected goals, with their 5-on-5 play tanking so far this season. Nashville’s special teams aren’t much better, with the second-worst power play in the league at 15.1 percent and a penalty kill that’s successful just 76 percent of the time — 22nd in the league.

Part of the problem for the Predators is their goaltender, Juuse Saros, is down to a .911 save percentage from .918 last season. Saros was a finalist for the Vezina last season, a feat he will likely not repeat with his current stat line, with the 30th-best save percentage and minus-7.86 goals saved above expected.

However, backup goaltender and former Blackhawk Kevin Lankinen, has a .925 save percentage this season — top 10 in the NHL — and has saved 4.83 goals above expected. Lankinen is becoming the goaltender he was during his best span in Chicago. With Saros’s save percentage falling for the second-straight season, that’s a necessary thing for Nashville.

The Predators have four players above 20 points this season, including Filip Forsberg (25), Matt Duchene (24), Roman Josi (23) and Mikael Granlund (20). In addition, free-agent signing Nino Niederreiter leads the team with 10 goals.

But the Predators have been without another major offseason acquisition, with defenseman Ryan McDonagh out of commission since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 5. McDonagh was averaging more than 20 minutes a game this season prior to that injury.

The Blackhawks and Predators are more similar than Nashville would likely wish, which explains why the Preds are near the bottom of the Central. If the Blackhawks are going to snap the losing streak, this is a good chance to do so.

Let’s go IceHogs.

Tale of the tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators

41.76% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 49.19% (20th)

41.13% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.31% (21st)

2.27 (32nd) — Goals per game — 2.47 (29th)

3.8 (29th) — Goals against per game — 3.07 (16th)

56.8% (1st) — Faceoffs — 53% (6th)

22.8% (15th) — Power play — 15.1% (31st)

71.3% (27th) — Penalty kill — 76% (22nd)

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV

(Quick note: The projected lineups will be part of another article that’ll run later in the day as part of a shift in how we handle previews here.)