Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators 3/31/12

 

 7Pm Bridgestone Arena Nashville, TN

TV: WGN

Radio: 720 AM WGN

 

The Blackhawks get together tonight with the biggest thorns in their sides, the Nashville Predators.  Thankfully this is the last regular season between these two rivals.  The Preds have owned the Hawks this year and have had their way with Corey Crawford.  This is the one team the that worries me going into the playoffs.  The Preds give the Blackhawks fits with a truck load of bad match ups.  Nashville had taken 9 out of a possible 10 points from the Blackhawks and have out scored them 21-11 in 5 games.  The Predators took over 4th place in the Western Conference with a 4-1 win in Detroit last night.  Russian Wayne Gretzky, Alexander Radulov scored his 2nd goal since returning from the KHL.  I still don’t get how a player can leave his team for 4 years and come back with 3 weeks to go in the regular season when the team is a legit Cup contender.  I am sure this will be a subject discussed during negotiations for the new CBA this offseason.  Patric Hornqvist (4G, 3A) and David Legwand (1G, 6A) are the leading scoring against the Hawks this season.  Pikke Rinne started last night at the Joe but there has been no word on if he starting tonight.  With the standings as close as they are I would expect Rinne to get the nod in goal tonight.  The Blackhawks will need to play a disciplined game tonight as the Predators have an elite power play unit with a 21.5% conversation.

 

Do not look for any changes on the Blackhawks end.  The 2nd line of Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg are coming off their best game of the season.  They will need to use their speed through the neutral zone to create scoring chances.  The best way to beat Pikke Rinne is to get bodies in front of him and block his field of vision.  The only goal the Blackhawks scored against him on Sunday came when Andrew Shaw set a screen in front of Rinne.  Corey Crawford will get the start in net tonight which is a bit of surprise to me.  I would have thought Ray Emery would have started tonight with Crow’s struggles against the Preds and a game against Minnesota at home tomorrow.  In injury news, Jonathan Toews was cleared for contact today and is looking to return Thursday against the Wild which will be the same night Duncan Keith will return from his suspension.  It would be nice if  the Blackhawks can score first tonight and get out to a lead.  Falling behind to the Predators is not a good idea.  There are legions of Hawks fans down in Nashville tonight and hopefully they are rewarded with a Hawks victory.  If you ever get the chance to go to Nashville for a Hawks game please  do.  I went down there in January and had a blast!

Tags: Alexander Radulov Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Detroit Red Wings Duncan Keith Jonathan Toews Marcus Kurger Minnesota Wild Nashville Predators Patric Hornqvist Patrick Sharp Pikke Rinne Ray Emery Viktor Stalberg

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