Game Preview : Not What We Expected
Chicago Blackhawks (55 pts 26-5-3) vs Nashville Predators (35 pts 14-14-7)7:30 PM United Center - Chicago, IL.TV: CSN ChicagoRadio: WGN 720 AM
|Apr 19 '13|
|Apr 07 '13|
|Apr 06 '13|
|Apr 01 '13|
|Feb 10 '13||CHI 3 at NSH 0||M. Kruger|
When the season began, we all figured the Nashville Predators would be one of the teams to contend with in the Central Division. Even thought the Hawks have turned the Central race into a laugher, the Preds have been a huge disappointment. The last time we saw Nashville, Corey Crawford ended the Blackhawks streak of games without a shutout that seemed to have lasted since the days of Tony Esposito. Crow will get the start tonight, which is rare considering the Hawks are playing back to back games. My guess is Q is rewarding him for his excellent game yesterday, plus he has had some extended time off before these games and the Hawks have two days off after today. In 10 career games versus Nashville Crawford is 5-4-1 with a 2.56 GAA, .902 save % and 2 shoutouts. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa will both miss tonight's game. I've said this before, but I have zero issue with the Hawks taking their time with two of their bigger star players. With the grind of the playoffs less than a month away take as many games off as you need.
I am very happy that the Hawks have Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith locked up because apparently when you break up your bromantic top D pairing, your whole team turns to crap! If the playoffs were to start today the Preds would not be part of them. They currently have 35 points and are 2 points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final playoff spot. Read that last sentence again and let it sink in for a moment considering the Preds put up a 104 points last season. Nashville is near the bottom of the league in scoring with a 2.43 goals per game average, well off the pace from last season's 2.83 goals per game. Pekka Rinne will most likely get the start tonight and he has been very hot and cold this season. While he leads the league in shutouts, with 5, he also has 8 games where he has given up 4 or more goals this year. Rinne has been pretty tough on the Hawks in his career. His record could be better than it is due to lack of goal support through the years. Rinne is 10-8-1 with a 2.47 GAA, .917 save % and 1 shutout in 20 career games against Chicago. Martin Erat has been an assist machine lately by assisting on 7 of the last 12 goals scored by Nashville.
Probable Blackhawks lineup
Corey Crawford 14-4-3, 1.97 GAA, .925 save %, 2 SO
Patrick Sharp (shoulder) OUT, Marian Hossa (upper body) OUT
Probable Predators lineup
Pekka Rinne 13-10-6, 2.34 GAA, .910 save %, 5 SO
Mike Fisher (bruised hand) day to day, Colin Wilson (upper body) OUT, Scott Hannan (upper body) OUT