Game #2 Preview: Predators Visit Hjalmarsson-less Chicago

Season Record
Predators 1-0-0
Chicago 1-1-1

The Nashville Predators play their first road game of the season tonight, and it’s against Central Division rivals the Chicago Blackhawks. Last year, Chicago won the season series 4 games to 2.

These two teams last met when the Predators dreams of making it to the second round of the playoffs were again crushed with Chicago beating Nashville in game six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, as they advanced to eventually win the Stanley Cup.

On the injury front, Chicago will be without defenseman Brian Campbell, who is expected to miss 4-5 weeks due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. Nashville’s starting goaltender, Pekka Rinne, left the game in the third period of their season opener on Saturday night and did not make the trip to Chicago. Anders Lindback will get the start in goal for Nashville. Martin Erat also did not make the trip. He has back spasms that have been bothering him since the end of the preseason. With Erat out, Wade Belak will likely be in the lineup Wednesday night, with Sergei Kostitsyn and Jamie Lundmark still on injured reserve.

Chicago will also be without defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The NHL has suspended Hjalmarsson for his illegal hit on Buffalo Sabres Jason Pominville, who has a concussion and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Despite the lack of success against the Blackhawks last year, the Predators are facing a very different team Wednesday night. Chicago had to let go of 10 regulars who were on the Stanley Cup winning team, including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel (all to the Atlanta Thrashers a.k.a. Atlanta Blackhawks), Kris Versteeg, John Madden, Colin Fraser Adam Burish and goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi. They have picked up Viktor Stalberg from the Leafs as part of the Versteeg deal and signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco from the Dallas Stars.

Both teams are coming off a couple days rest. The Predators will only be playing their second game of the season, not having played since their season opener at home on Saturday night, a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Chicago last played Monday when they registered their first win of the season, a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, after falling behind 2-0 in the first three minutes of the game.

Game time is at 7:30 pm Central Time. Go here to listen online or watch the game on tv on Fox Sports South in HD.

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Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Anders Lindback, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Martin Erat, Nashville Predators, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Pekka Rinne, Sergei Kostitsyn

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