Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Look for A Full 12 Pack

By Mike Brennan
Jan 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63) celebrates with teammates on th bench after scoring a goal during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63) celebrates with teammates on th bench after scoring a goal during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks will be facing a very familiar foe down in Nashville Tuesday night. After having played last Tuesday at the United Center, the Predators and Blackhawks will meet once again, this time in enemy territory. In the game last Tuesday, the ‘Hawks won with two goals from Andrew Shaw and one from Brent Seabrook. On the other hand, the Predators had offense from Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg.

Since that affair in Chicago, the Predators went on to lose in overtime in Winnipeg and shut out the struggling Minnesota Wild at home 3-0. Since the first of January, 2016 has not been very kind to the Predators. They are 2-4-1 since then, and have been outscored 22-15. However, it is not very surprising that they have let up that many goals in that span, since they have let up 123 goals this year, and that puts them 20th in the league in that category.

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As for a breakdown for this division team, they are built from their defense out. Their top four blue liners of Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis all have 16 or more points on the season and they all have positive corsi numbers, meaning that when they are on the ice, they have more shots, blocks and misses than players on the other team. However, the not very surprising stat is that they have negative plus/minus numbers. This is not very surprising considering that the Predators let up so many goals, and that their defense is more oriented to pushing up the puck and creating scoring opportunities. Because their offense is not very good, the D-men have to step up and try to help out, but that allows teams to have chances going the other way. For example, Roman Josi has ten goals this year. When a defenseman has ten goals before the all star break, that usually means that teams will get chances going the other way at times.

On the front end for the Predators, there is nothing really special. They have some very good forwards in James Neal and Filip Forsberg, but they lack players that can finish at the net. They are averaging 31.2 shots per game, which puts them sixth in the league in that category. In terms of possession numbers, there are only six teams in front of them with better corsi numbers. With all this taken into account, the fact that they are 17th in the league in goals for with 116 is a very peculiar fact. One of the biggest reasons for this discrepancy is that the team relies too heavily on goal scoring from their defenseman. Goal scoring from blueliners should only work to compliment the forwards scoring. Not be the main means of putting the puck in the net. It would be like giving Creed from “The Office” a leading role. It just would not be able to support the show enough.

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As for the Blackhawks, they have been riding high as of late. They are in the midst of an 11 game win streak that includes teams like the Canadiens, Penguins and Predators. So, the streak has not been against teams at the top of the standings, but this is a very impressive streak nevertheless. The ‘Hawks have scored 43 goals in the 11 game stretch, with allowing only 21 goals. Some key players have been Patrick Kane with 19 points over the streak, Jonathon Toews with 13 points and Artemi Panarin with 12 points.

An interesting player that has emerged the past couple games has been Andrew Shaw. Ever since the game against Buffalo on January 8th, Shaw has made a complete 180 degree turn. In those six games, he has seven points and has completely changed his style. Instead of trying to stick handle in the neutral zone and create plays himself, he has taken a back seat to Toews and Hossa on the line and has devoted his game to creating space and letting those two take charge. Because of this, Shaw has been able to have good positioning which allows him to get on the scoreboard and prosper. So, if Shaw keeps this up, he will stay a good commodity for the ‘Hawks.

In net for this matchup, Pekka Rinne will likely be in net. He has not been playing up to expectations this year with a .902 save percentage and allowing 2.57 goals per game. On the other end, Corey Crawford has been having a career year. He has a .928 save percentage and allowing about 2.17 goals per game.

The puck drops Tuesday night at 7 P.M. on Comcast Sportsnet locally, NBCSN nationally (hopefully Doc will be calling it) and as always 720 WGN in the car. Go ‘Hawks!

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