Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Covering The Edges

By Colin Likas
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We’re inching ever closer to the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That includes the start of the Chicago Blackhawks’ series against the Nashville Predators (and Patrick Kane’s return!).

There’s plenty of in-depth discussion and analysis about the upcoming series, which opens at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. But we should have a little bit of fun with this series too, right? The playoffs are the best time of the year for hockey fans.

So let’s break it all down. Here’s a comparison of (almost) every aspect you could care about regarding the ’Hawks-Preds series. Feel free to offer your own breakdown of some other aspect of the series in the comments:

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  • Even-strength offense
    Blackhawks: 2.68 goals/game, 1.19 goals for/against ratio, 33.9 shots/game
    Predators: 2.76 goals/game, 1.26 goals for/against ratio, 31.9 shots/game
    Breakdown: By the numbers, you could say advantage Nashville. But remember, Kane missed 21 games for the ’Hawks. Don’t underestimate the impact he would’ve had on that 2.68 figure.
    Advantage: Even

    Even-strength defense
    Blackhawks: 2.27 goals allowed per game, 30.2 shots against/game
    Nashville: 2.46 goals allowed per game, 28.3 shots against/game
    Breakdown: The ’Hawks surpassed the 28.3 mark in all four games between the clubs during the regular season. The Preds have a super-deep blue line, while the ’Hawks have a stellar four and questionable two. But the willingness of Chicago’s forwards and defensemen to get in front of pucks and backcheck well is a benefit.
    Advantage: Even

    Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    Goaltending (focus on expected starters)
    Blackhawks: Corey Crawford, 57 games, 32 wins, .924 SV%, 2.27 goals allowed average
    Predators: Pekka Rinne, 64 games, 41 wins, .923 SV%, 2.18 goals allowed average
    Breakdown: Anyone who has seen Rinne plays knows the man is capable of looking like a Cirque Du Soleil star in net while making saves. They should also remember he’s done next to nothing in the playoffs, while Crawford could have easily been the Conn Smythe winner in 2013.
    Advantage: Blackhawks by a nose

    Blackhawks: 17.6 percent, 10th among playoff teams
    Predators: 16.2 percent, 14th among playoff teams
    Breakdown: A key goal for both teams in this series should be to not take penalties. Kane’s return could spruce up Chicago’s percentage.
    Advantage: Even

    Penalty kill
    Blackhawks: 83.4 percent, 8th among playoff teams
    Predators: 80.8 percent, 14th among playoff teams
    Breakdown: The ’Hawks are surprisingly middle-of-the-road here when it comes to their ranking among playoff foes, but they still have the edge.
    Advantage: Blackhawks

    Lead protection
    Blackhawks: 89.7 win percentage leading after one period, 100.0 win percentage leading after two periods
    Predators: 74.1 win percentage leading after one period, 77.1 win percentage leading after two periods
    Breakdown: Buffalo almost kicked the ’Hawks off their perfection pedestal when leading after two. Don’t expect the Preds to be taken so lightly in that situation.
    Advantage: Blackhawks