Following a rough two-loss week, the Nashville Predators face a must-win game in Chicago. Although it’s early, this game holds serious consequences.
Tonight is a big night for the Nashville Predators. They venture into the United Center to play their division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, for the second time in the first 10 games. The Predators have had a tough week, losing 4-2 last Saturday on the road against the New York Rangers, and 3-2 in a shootout at home on Tuesday versus the Calgary Flames. The Predators sit 4-3-2 this season, 3rd place in the Central Division. The record isn’t impressive, however, it’s not terrible. Tonight is crucial though for Nashville. Every game is now important, as every point counts in the end, however, certain games just mean more.
Tonight is vital for the Predators for more than just points. So far this season, Nashville is 1-3-1 on the road. If the Predators weren’t virtually unbeatable at home, that type of road record would be a death sentence. Although the record doesn’t show it, the road play hasn’t been that bad. However, it shows up as a loss, no matter how you shape it.
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Tonight is crucial for divisional pride. The Predators have been the underdog in the Central Division for years. Nashville has always been chasing Chicago, however, they have a chance to make a statement tonight. On October 14, Nashville fell to Chicago 2-1 in OT, in Chicago, but that’s in the past now.
Following tonight’s game, Nashville has one more home game, until they go on 4-game road trip to the West coast and Columbus. Out West trips have not been kind to the Predators in the past, and if Nashville goes into the trip on a low note, that stretch will hurt. Sure, they can win against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, but a two-game win streak is a much better feeling. Especially if they can get the Chicago monkey off their back.
Heading into a 4-game road trip with a 1-3-1 road record spells trouble.
What to Watch for
So far this season, we’ve seen flashes of greatness from a young Predators team. Filip Forsberg is off to as hot a start as anyone else in the league right now. He currently sits with 7 goals and 5 assists through 9 games. His 7 goals are tied for 4th best in the NHL. His 12 points are tied for 8th best in the league.
Forsberg is having a historic start by Predators standards. He is the first Predator to ever score 7 goals through the first 9 games. If he scores again tonight, he will be the first Predator to ever record 8 goals through 10 games. One point tonight will tie him for the franchise record in points through 10 games.
Also noteworthy is Pekka Rinne‘s play so far. Through 7 starts, Rinne has a .933 save percentage. However, he has shined on the road, boasting a .943 save percentage, and one shutout. His best play has come on the road, and if the Predators want to win tonight, Rinne will need to be on his A game.
Tonight is a must win, plain and simple. The Predators need to boost confidence in division play and in road play. They are about to head out west for a treacherous road trip that has proven difficult in the past. Any good team can win at home, however, a great team is one that can dominate on the road.
Nashville Predators (4-3-2) vs Chicago Blackhawks (5-3-2). Friday night, division game. Can’t ask for much more as a hockey fan.