Western Conference Outlook: Chicago Blackhawks


We continue our Western Conference Outlook series today with a look at a Predators Central Division foe, the Chicago Blackhawks.

In case you missed it, we took a look at the Los Angeles Kings and predicted how the Predators will fare against them next season here.

The Blackhawks A Year Ago

The Chicago Blackhawks were the normal Chicago Blackhawks hockey fans have grown accustomed to. Chicago did not find themselves atop the Western Conference standings this past season, nor did they win the Central Division. The Blackhawks found themselves as the number-five team in the Western Conference at the end of the season, and by somewhat of a surprise, the number-three team in the deeply talented Central Division.

Chicago of course still did make the playoffs, and were of course a hot-pick to take home the Stanley Cup last season.The Blackhawks season ended in a game seven thriller in Chicago where the Los Angeles Kings took home the Western Conference title with an overtime lighting of the lamp and later on going on to win the Stanley Cup over the New York Rangers.

The Blackhawks were the number-two team in the NHL in the goals-per-game category with 3.18 goals a night average. Most may assume that Chicago’s prized possessions, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, lead their team in goals a year ago. Not so fast, the real “Big Two” duo in Chicago last season was Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. The NHL veterans combined for 64-goals last season, seven more goals than Kane and Toews combined for.

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It is of course worth noting that Hossa and Sharp did play in a total of 11 more games than the Kane-Toews duo, but averaged less time on the ice in those contests. Sharp also was one of three players in the NHL last season to have 300 or more shots, leading his team in that category by 72 shots.

The Predators faced off against the high-scoring, superstar-loaded Blackhawks five-times last season and took the season series with a 4-1-0 record. Nashville outscored Chicago 20 to 12 throughout the course of the five-game regular season series.

Predators and Blackhawks fans saw some insanely entertaining and high-scoring hockey between their two favorite teams last season. Nashville scored seven goals against Chicago twice last season, the only team in the NHL to score seven goals on the Blackhawks other than the Toronto Maple Leafs who only accomplished that feat once.

Shall we reminisce, I think we shall. Here are the highlights of the Predators beating the Blackhawks in Chicago’s final regular season game; Smashville was indeed rocking:

Blackhawks Off-Season Moves

The Blackhawks major off-season headline deals with their two superstar forwards signing enormous contract extensions. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each signed new eight-year deals with Chicago, each will make $10.5 mil per season beginning at the start of the 2015-2016 season. Both Kane and Toews were entering their final contract year this upcoming season before signing their eight-year deals.

The Blackhawks also added center Brad Richards. Richards signed a one-year, $2 mil contract with Chicago after his former team, the New York Rangers, bought-out his remaining six-year contract worth $60 mil. Richards will be a top-six forward even on the highly-talented Blackhawks roster. The 34-year-old forward had 51-points in 82-games last season with the Rangers.

Other notable off-season moves include the trading of Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames and the signings of Peter Regin, Scott Darling, Dennis Rasmussen, and Michael Leightonen.

Predators Predictions Against The Hawks

On paper, and basing things on certain players pasts, the Predators are more evenly matched-up with their new forward acquisitions with Chicago this season than they were a season ago. With that being said, if hockey was played on paper there is no way you would say the Predators would have gone 4-1-0 against the Blackhawks last season; but here are the predictions for next season against the Blackhawks.

The Predators play the Blackhawks four-times this upcoming season with two games coming in Chicago and two games coming in Nashville. The one loss Nashville suffered from Chicago last season came in Nashville before the Predators won the final three games in the season series.

The first meeting this upcoming season will be the second game in a back-to-back situation following a game in Winnipeg against the Jets. Coming off of a game 24-hours prior in Winnipeg and entering the United Center is a tall order. I think the Predators fall in this one.

The Predators then get the Blackhawks at home just five-days later. Following the loss in Chicago, the Predators seek revenge and take the win against the Blackhawks in this one. Chicago’s next trip to Nashville takes place in Nashville as well, where I predict one of those “freaky games” from Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and the Predators win this one in a shootout.

December 29 marks the last meeting next season between the Predators and the Blackhawks and it takes place in the Windy City. The Predators and Blackhawks play an extremely close, low scoring game in this matchup and the Predators sneak out of the United Center with a point to their name in an overtime loss.

I predict the Predators to record a 2-1-1 record against the Chicago Blackhawks next season.

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