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 Chicago Blackhawks kick-off what will be a mini-Central Division roadtrip, tonight, as they head to Music City to take on the Nashville Predators. Tonight’s game is the first of a 2-game road trip where the Hawks play the Predators and their biggest rival, the St. Louis Blues, on Saturday.
This is the second of a 4-game season series between the Hawks and Predators. As most probably remember, the Hawks won their previous matchup with Nashville, last Saturday, which ended on a Jonathan Toews overtime game-winning goal. You can watch tonight’s game on CSN-Chicago and you can listen to it on WGN 720 AM as well as 87.7 FM The Game.
The Predators won their only game since their last meeting with the Hawks, a 4-3 shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes. Nashville is off to a very good 4-0-2 start, which is good for 6 points and has them in 1st place in the Central Division. Newly acquired Predators, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro are off to good starts to their Nashville careers. Filip Forsberg is currently 2nd in points for rookies. He, along with Neal, Ribeiro and 2nd year defenseman Seth Jones represent a change in philosophy in Nashville. A change that was evident in the last meeting between the Hawks and Preds, as they were more aggressive and offensively-minded as opposed to being strictly a trapping/defensive team. There’s also Shea Weber and his ridiculous slapshot, which was the Predators’ lone-goal, against the Hawks.
In net it will likely be Pekka Rinne, for the Preds. When Rinne is healthy, he is one of the better goaltenders in the NHL.
The Hawks look to build off of what was their most complete win, on Tuesday, against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Q will likely stick with the line of Brad Richards centering Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell, which was the most dangerous line against the Flyers. Patrick Sharp has been on fire to start the season, especially on the Power Play. Kris Versteeg had a very solid game in his season debut, on Tuesday. No slow start for the captain, Jonathan Toews, as he has been doing his job as well as producing, early on. Patrick Kane almost needs no mention, but that wouldn’t be right, as he has been excellent so far.
Divisional games are always more important, and with Nashville trying to announce themselves as contenders, this season, it would do the Hawks well to let them know who’s top-dog, in the Central. The Hawks have a solid amount of momentum in their favor, and a road win would make it grow ten-fold.