By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 6-5-3
Chicago Blackhawks 8-9-1
The Nashville Predators host the defending Stanley Cup champions Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. It will be the first time since the Western Conference quarterfinals game 6 that the Blackhawks have visited Nashville.
Nashville has already played the Blackhawks once this year, winning 3-2 at the United Center. Nashville trailed 2-1 after two periods of play. With goals by Colin Wilson and Joel Ward, Nashville rallied back for the win. Ward’s game winning goal was scored with 26.7 seconds left in regulation. Anders Lindback had his first full start as a goaltender in the NHL and got his first victory.
Chicago is currently sitting in 9th spot in the Western Conference with 17 points. The Blackhawks are two points ahead of the Predators but Nashville has played four less games.
Both Chicago and Nashville have struggled as of late. Chicago is 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and have lost two straight. Nashville won Thursday night in a shootout over the Blues, but have a 3-5-2 record in the last 10 games.
The Predators are expecting some reinforcements for Saturday’s game. Ryan Suter will be back in the lineup. Suter suffered a lower body injury on October 19th against the Calgary Flames and has missed the last 9 games.
Martin Erat is also expected back in the lineup. Erat missed the last couple games with an injury that hasn’t been disclosed, though he did miss a couple games earlier in the season for back spasms. Matthew Lombardi is still out with a concussion.
Chicago has a healthy roster. Dave Bolland is the only player on injured reserve as of late and he is expected to be taken off injured reserve for Saturday night’s game.
For the Predators to beat Chicago, the defense will have to keep the power houses off the scoresheet. But it isn’t just Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa that Nashville needs to worry about. Patrick Sharp is among the league leaders in scoring. That’s a lot of offensive power up front for Chicago, not to mention the dynamic defense of Duncan Keith.
Nashville will also need to find some offense of its own.
Nashville played at Bridgestone Arena twice in a 13-game span between October 23 and November 23. Tickets are still available for the game. It’s a 7 pm start time.