Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
It’s funny how much can change in exactly one month. The Chicago Blackhawks have won four of their last five but without a familiar face anchoring the defense. Rookie Antti Raanta has been impressive in net and perhaps this may be a nice change of pace against the Nashville Predators tonight, who put up seven goals against Nikolai Khabibulin and Corey Crawford in their last meeting. Even without Crawford the ‘Hawks are first in the Western Conference while the Preds hover around mediocrity for another season. The Predators have won three in a row, so maybe they are starting to make a push towards the lower half of the conference playoff picture. Here are three things the Blackhawks were taught by the Predators in their previous contest:
1. They can score. The names on the roster may not blow anyone away, but their seven goal showing a month ago shows that any team can put up a crooked number when everything is clicking. The NHL is filled with talented players and no team should be taken lightly. I am not saying the ‘Hawks did this in their last meeting, but let’s just say they aren’t going to let anything catch them by surprise this time versus the Predators.
2. We needed a different backup goalie. We knew it before this game, but this only further confirmed some of the fan bases’ deepest concerns. Khabibulin has looked his age and there needed to be a change. Though Crawford’s injury is concerning, the play of Raanta is refreshing and hopefully the tandem will be healthy when games mean the most.
3. Shea Weber is both rich AND talented. Weber is not having one of his best seasons though he remains a massive threat from the blue line on a nightly basis. He finished with a goal and an assist and does present some matchup problems for the Blackhawks. I can imagine that the ‘Hawks want anyone but Weber to beat them tonight and will rush him off the blue line as much as they can.
The Blackhawks and Predators will square off in Nashville at 7:00pm central time tonight. For all your original Blackhawks news and notes please visit Blackhawkup.com or follow us on twitter at Blackhawk_up.