Apr 19, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) shoots the puck against Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during overtime at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Nashville Predators have started a “Keep the Red Out” campaign/ticket plan, this season, as a ploy to keep Chicago Blackhawks fans out of Bridgestone Arena. We’ll see if it works, but we can confirm that it is at least going to add some fuel to this rivalry that is transitioning from the young stages, to a rivalry that has a little history to it.
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Statistically, the Blackhawks definitely look to be the favorite, tonight, in Nashville. Traditionally, the Predators are a low-scoring, hardcore defensively minded team, that has given the Hawks’ high-octane offense fits, in the past, but the Preds have struggled with what their known for, this season.
The Predators are off to a slow start, this season, which is most likely largely due to the injury of star goaltender, Pekka Rinne. The injury has forced Nashville to resort to backup Carter Hutton, who only had one game of NHL experience, going into the season. Offense was never going to be how the Preds won games, but it has been anemic, so far, and to go along with an average defensive game isn’t a recipie for success, in the NHL, especially in a highly competitive Central Division.
As it stands now, the Predators are in last place in the Central, 12 points off the pace of the division leading Blackhawks. Long-time Predator, David Legwand leads the way offensively, but Nashville isn’t without other offensive threats. Defenseman Shea Weber and his booming slap shot can’t be ignored, and the Hawks roster is full of shins that have felt the wrath of Weber’s shot.
The Blackhawks are on their biggest roll of the season, with a 4-game winning streak, and now find themselves in the Central Division lead. And now, help is on the way! Not like it was needed, but the Blackhawks have required on of their 2010 Stanley Cup forwards. Kris Versteeg, to give their 3rd line more of an offensive punch. The Hawks were already the best offensive team, in the league, and now they just improved. One thing in the negative column is the fact that the Hawks are letting in more goals than they’d like, and their world-class offense has been more than enough to bail them out, all season, but there will be nights where they won’t be able to count on 5 or more goals for. The Predators are traditionally, a team that makes it hard for the high-powered Hawks to score. Will this be one of those nights?
The high-flying Hawks offense is lead by Patrick Kane, and closely followed by Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. It doesn’t stop there, either. The Hawks scoring depth, is like no other. Brandon Saad has been a revelation, on the 2nd line, and Brandon Pirri is finding his offensive stride, since being called up. Duncan Keith has been piling up points, from the blueline and Niklas Hjalmarsson has been showing off a new found offensive side. Corey Crawford looks to start in net, tonight, and he has been great, but he has played A LOT, and there is concern of wearing him out, this season, but it is still early.
This rivalry has had some rich history to it, even though it is still considered a young one. The Blackhawks and Predators are now one of the oldest rivalries, in the newly formed Central Division, and while one team is soaring, and the other is floundering, it will still be a very interesting game to watch. The “Keep the Red Out” campaign has only added another wrinkle to this rivalry. It should be a great game!