The Chicago Blackhawks have been on the cusp of making the playoffs throughout most of the first half of the season. The team has played great at times but seems to have peaked too early as they have struggled since the halfway point of the year.
This season has been a rollercoaster of a year, but with three games coming up against the Preds, this thing is either going up or stopping. The Hawks and Predators will faceoffs tonight just two points dividing them in the standings.
The Predators have a record of 24-21-1 while the Blackhawks have a record of 21-19-5. Two points divide these two teams and the Hawks actually have a game in hand. It really doesn’t matter what the schedule looks like after this, because right now these next three games are all that matter.
These games are going to be important and there should be a playoff-like intensity to them. For the Hawks, if this was a playoff series they are already down 3-0 in it. The team needs to win all three of these games as the margin for error is very slim because the team has already struggled against Nashville all year.
The Predators are back at home tonight after losing two straight games against the Carolina Hurricanes. The same way the Hawks have struggled against the Predators, Nashville has against Carolina. As of now, the Preds have lost all five of their games against the Canes this year, and that number could get even larger because they face each other again to end the season.
The Hurricanes have beaten the Predators a lot this season, so what do the Blackhawks need to do?
1. Get in front of the net
The Predators have had the Hawks number through the first round of matchups this season, and in large part that has to do with their goaltending being great. That has been the theme for the Predators the past three years when these two teams played. Their goaltending has led them to victory.
Tonight and for the next two games, the Hawks need to be put someone in front of the net disrupting the view of the Predators goalie. There needs to be players swarming down low trying to get a goal, because the pretty on the rush goals just does not happen that often against the Predators.
2. Score early
I mean this one is pretty self-explanatory. The Predators are 12-4-1 this season when scoring first, 8-2-0 when leading after the first period, and 11-0-0 when leading after two periods. For the Hawks to be a factor in the playoff race they can not let the Predators play with a lead for too long.
3. Play physical
The Hawks have been missing an element to their game through the first five matchups. Tonight the intensity needs to be at an all-time high and that includes playing physical. The Predators are arguable the team’s biggest rival remaining this season with St. Louis being in another division and Detroit being at the bottom of the standings. Dropping this many games to the Predators should get the team angry.
Puck drop for the first game of this series is at 7 PM Central!