Mar 14, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) makes a skate save on a tip from Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time ever, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Nashville Predators without Barry Trotz as the Predators’ head coach. It’s too early to tell if Nashville will completely abandon their boring, shut-down defensive style of play in favor of a more offensive style of play that new head coach Peter Laviolette ran when he was coaching the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Hawks will get their first taste of their Central Division rivals, tonight, as the first of a 4-game season series between the 2 teams. Last season, the Predators won 4 out of 5 games against the Hawks. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM Central time. You can watch the game on WGN-Chicago and you can listen to the game on either WGN 720 AM or 87.7 FM The Game.
The Predators are coming off of a 2-0 win, last night, in Winnipeg against the Jets. In that game, against the Jets, the Predators were out-shot and out-chanced and still won. Are they sure Barry Trotz isn’t still there? Nashville may be trying to keep their classic shut-down defensive style, but they have some new fire-power as well. Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro know how to light the lamp. There’s also that booming shot from defenseman Shea Weber that causes teams headaches and bruised shins.
In net will likely be Carter Hutton, which (no offense to Hutton) should be music to the Hawks’ ears. Regular starting goaltender, Pekka Rinne, is looking healthy and as good as ever so far this season.
The Hawks will look to get back on track after a loss, but a very solid performance, against the Calgary Flames, on Wednesday night. Any time a you get 50 shots-on-goal, you’re doing something right. During the morning skate, the Hawks ran the same lines that they’ve primarily been using, so far this season. Jonathan Toews centering Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa on the top-line. Andrew Shaw centering Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad on the second-line. If Shaw is able to improve his faceoff skills, this second-line will be scary good. The third-line will be Brad Richards centering Bryan Bickell and Ben Smith. Finally, the fourth-line will be Dan Carcillo and Jeremy Morin being centered by Marcus Kruger.
There will be changes on the Hawks’ blueline tonight. With Michal Rozsival returning from injury to make his season debut, David Rundblad will be sitting tonight’s game out. Rozsival will skate with Trevor van Riemsdyk while Johnny Oduya is back with Niklas Hjalmarsson and the Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook pairing returns as well.
In net, Corey Crawford will get the go for the Hawks. So far this season, Crawford has been fantastic for the Hawks.
It will be interesting to see what the Predators are all about, this season. It will also be interesting to see if the Hawks, who struggled against them last season, have an answer for them. We’ll find out tonight.