Mar 23, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates with the puck as Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) chases during the third period at the United Center. The Predators won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Nashville Predators have been Central Division rivals of the Chicago Blackhawks for several years, and the animosity between the two teams has been a rollercoaster ride. The Predators and Blackhawks haven’t faced each other in the playoffs for 4 seasons, and the Predators missed the playoffs last season by 4 points. The only rivalry they have to build on recently are multiple regular season games. Last year the Blackhawks took a hit in their 5 games against the Predators going 1-4-0.
Although they bested the Blackhawks, the Predators fell just short of making the playoffs. They would like to see more offense from people like former Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg. Nashville’s offense didn’t seem to be a problem against Chicago since they outscored them 20-12. They also signed forwards Mike Ribeiro from the Phoenix Coyotes and Derek Roy from the New York Rangers.
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During his first full season with the Predators, Stalberg scored 8 goals, 10 assists, and was a plus/minus -14 in 70 games. His previous season with the Blackhawks was a little more productive in a fraction of the time. Stalberg scored 9 goals, 14 assists, and was a plus/minus 16 in 47 games for the Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup-winning season. He was also playing with extremely talented players that could keep up with his speed in Chicago. The change in team style is showing on Stalberg’s scores, and the Predator’s are going to change up something in order for him to return to his previous productivity.
The Predators will also need a little extra help for the first half of the season as alternate captain Mike Fisher injured his Achilles heel and had surgery. He is expected to return in November at the earliest.
Nashville proved to be a tough opponent for Chicago last season but still failed to make it to the post season. How do you think the Predators/Blackhawks series will go next season?