By Amanda DiPaolo
Chicago Blackhawks 31-23-6
Nashville Predators 31-21-8
Only two points separate the Nashville Predators from the Chicago Blackhawks. A loss for Nashville would put both teams at 70 points on the season. It might also put the sixth place Predators out of the top eight in the Western Conference for the first time in a couple months.
The Predators, currently on a two-game losing streak, look to turn things around Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The task isn’t an easy one as Nashville is hosting the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Blackhawks have won their last two games and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 starts. Chicago also has a decent 13-9-6 road record, and is second in the League on the power play, connecting 24.4 percent of the time on the man advantage.
On the penalty kill, however, Chicago is 27th at 78.2 percent. While Nashville doesn’t have strong power play numbers consistently all season, the Predators man advantage has gone 7-30, or 23.3 percent, in the last 10 games.
Furthermore, Nashville’s 70 points through 60 games gives them one more point than they had after 60 games last season, a season when Nashville finished with 100 points.
The Predators have the lowest goals-against on home ice at 2.04, and have allowed two goals or fewer 18 times in the 27 games they have played at home. Since the start of 2011, the Predators have a 6-2-2home record in 10 games and are 14-6-7 overall in 27 games played at Bridgestone Arena. But Chicago has a 3.1 goals per game average.
Nashville has won three of the five meetings this year with the Blackhawks. The visiting team has lost the last four games in the season series between the two clubs. Chicago won at the United Center on December 22, as well as January 16th. Nashville took victories on November 13th and January 13, but also picked up a victory in the second game of the season against Chicago on October 13th.
If the Predators win Thursday night it will be the first time since 2005-06 that Nashville would win the season series.
Players who are out include Marcel Goc, Cal O’Reilly, Francis Bouillon and Matthew Lombardi.
The Tennessean reported Wednesday afternoon that Suter practiced on Wednesday and that Coach Barry Trotz said he would be playing but Suter said he had to be 100% to play.
Chicago only has one injured player out but he has been cleared to play Thursday night against the Predators. Fernando Pisani suffered a concussion on February 12th. No decision yet has been made as to whether Pisani will play Thursday or not.
Tickets for Thursday night’s game are still available. It’s college night which means you can get upper bowl tickets for $10 and lower bowl tickets for $25. The next game for Nashville is Saturday afternoon when the Predators travel to Dallas to take on the Stars.
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