Pekka Rinne has been worked down into the ice this season. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators, 4/6/13

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

April 6th, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
2:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee

This afternoon’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators is nearly devoid of meaning for the visitors and the last stand for the hosts.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(15-15-8, 5th in Central)

The Nashville Predators entered today 12th in the Western Conference, four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot and trailing the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Phoenix Coyotes in the chase for it. They currently have a 5.5 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Key players

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Shea Weber and David Legwand have been heading in opposite directions of late. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

David Legwand (10G-12A) has come on strong lately with seven points in his last five games – and it’s probably too late in the season to make a difference. Pretty fitting for Leggy, really.

After playing very strong hockey throughout most of March, Shea Weber (7G-14A) is in something of a slump again. Since March 21st he has just three points (2G-1A) in eight games, almost all against weak opposition.

Others to watch

Guess who’s getting the start in net today: Pekka Rinne (14-11-7, 2.31 GAA, .914 SV%). Big surprise there, right? It really doesn’t matter if he’s playing well or poorly, he’ll get every start the rest of the way. One has to think that giving the big guy a little bit more rest over the course of the season – even if he really wanted to play – could have done this team some good. Too late for that now.

Mike Fisher (9G-10A) had an eight-game point streak, the second-longest of his career, broken in his return to action on Thursday night against Columbus. Barry Trotz had him on the right wing in place of the departed Martin Erat; Fisher’s center spot was filled by Paul Gaustad (2G-3A).

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

(27-5-4, 1st in Central)

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks

Nashville doesn’t have any forwards who really match up with Toews and Kane. (PHOTO: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Key players

Patrick Kane (19G-25A) is the kind of guy you’d love to have on your own team but hate because he plays for someone else. He and captain Jonathan Toews (18G-20A) are unmatched by any of the Nashville forwards.

Others to watch

Which overachieving goalie will get the start today – Corey Crawford (15-4-4, 2.01, .922) or Ray Emery (12-1-0, 2.09, .919)? Does it really matter?

Bottom line

This first half of a weekend home-and-home pretty much has to go in the Nashville Predators’ win column if the team has any hope of making the playoffs. Even then they would have to run pretty close to perfect over the last 10 games to surpass the four teams ahead of them for the #8 seed in the West. Given how rudderless the team looks right now, the prospects of them winning this game don’t look too good.

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Nashville Predators