The Chicago Blackhawks are one of just five teams to beat the Boston Bruins by more than one goal this season. Their shocking Tuesday win bumped the Blackhawks behind the Sharks in the Connor Bedard race, however, and is likely an unsustainable victory.
That will be put to the test on Thursday against the Nashville Predators, who, like the Blackhawks, cast off several players at the trade deadline in order to get a better draft pick. Out of Nashville went Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot, Mikael Granlund and Nino Neiderreiter and in came Tyson Barrie, Rasmus Asplund and Cal Foote.
Young players like Cody Glass, Philip Tomasino, Dante Fabbro and Foote are playing important roles for the Predators, while older players like Ryan Johansen, Ryan McDonagh and Filip Forsberg are out with injuries.
Similar to last season, the Predators are led in scoring by Roman Josi, who’s scored 58 points in 65 games, including 17 goals. Matt Duchene, with 51 points (19 G, 32) in 64 games, is second on the team. No other active player for Nashville scored more than 30 points.
Nashville remains a middling team in the Central Division — despite its lackluster offense — partially due to its goaltending. Juuse Saros stopped .918 percent of the shots faced in his 50 games so far this season, while Kevin Lankinen, in 15, has stopped .925. Turns out, when given a capable defense, Lankinen can be a good goaltender.
The Preds, in both quality and quantity, are one of the worst possession teams in the NHL this season: ranked 25th with a 47.98 percent shot share and 19th with a 49.25 percent high-danger share.
While Nashville was a playoff team last season, that was largely thanks to the efforts of Josi — who came in second for the Norris last season after scoring 96 points — and Saros, who was third in Vezina voting with a .918 save percentage.
Those two remain Nashville’s best players, while the Predators’ forwards look less stellar. There’s a reason Nashville sold off a top-10 Calder finisher last year already, and it’s because Jeannot scored just 14 points in 56 games, including five goals.
This will be a clash of teams trying to get to the bottom of the standings, but the Blackhawks, despite their deadline fire sale, continue to look impressive against teams like Boston ... somehow.
Chicago needs to get back on the right (wrong?) foot with a good loss against Nashville Thursday.
Let’s go IceHogs.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators
42.84% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.76% (22nd)
41.37% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.25% (21st)
2.52 (32nd) — Goals per game — 2.83 (25th)
3.54 (25th) — Goals against per game — 2.89 (12th)
53.6% (4th) — Faceoffs — 52% (10th)
16.8% (28th) — Power play — 18.7% (25th)
76.4% (21st) — Penalty kill — 81.6% (12th)
How to watch
When: 7 p.m. CT
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV: ESPN+, Hulu (yep, online only)
Radio: WGN 720