The All-Star Break is over and the NHL will start the “second half” of its season with a busy Tuesday. The Nashville Predators take on an old rival.
If you’ve been a fan of the NHL for 10 years or more, you probably live in fear that Blackhawks will become a world beater overnight. It’s happened before and it terrifies me that it can happen again. My biggest fear might that, after a long and grueling playoffs, the Nashville Predators win the Stanley Cup. As Roman Josi goes to lift the cup, Chelsea Dagger comes over the loudspeaker and Doc Emerick cries out, “By God, that’s the Blackhawks music!”. The Blackhawks then storm out onto the ice where the NHL sanctions a winner take all cage match. Of course, the refereeing will be done by guest ref Vince McMahon, and the Blackhawks will take advantage of a tired Predators team.
Obviously, this is a joke but doesn’t it seem like the Blackhawks always find a way to escape defeat? So far this season, the Blackhawks haven’t found the formula as they sit last in the Central Division. They’ll travel to Nashville to meet a well-rested team that will look to start the second half of the season with a win. Let’s take another look at who’s still driving Chicago.
Wow, I’m surprised the Hawks are playing an indoor game
The best player on those dynasty teams was Patrick Kane, don’t @ me. Kane is continuing his audition to be the best American player ever with 49 points in 49 games. He’s continually making his teammates better despite losing his Russian doppelganger, Artemi Panarin. It’s incredible that such a seemingly passive player drives possession and scoring in such a low key way. P.K. Subban will mirror him and look to neutralize the dynamic winger.
Former Erie Otter, Alex DeBrincat, is having a breakout season after many scouts and teams had doubts due to his size and skating ability. All of those fears have been qualmed as the versatile center/winger has 17 goals and 32 points in 49 games. I have no idea on which line DeBrincat will play, but he’ll be good no matter what.
New pick-up Anthony Duclair has been great since arriving in the windy city with 4 points in 6 games. His advanced stats are through the roof and he’s only going to get better. I have a soft spot for power forwards though, so I root for Duclair at every turn.
Now, onto the second most important piece on the Hawks, Duncan Keith. Keith has 23 points in 49 games, despite not scoring a single goal. His two-way play has led the Hawks to multiple cups and his impact shouldn’t be ignored. If you hate him because of his dirty hits, that’s completely fair, but every great defenseman makes some questionable plays. Ottawa Senators fans hate Subban for what he did to Mark Stone in the playoffs, and with good reason.
The Nashville Predators
The lines today might be a little misleading as Filip Forsberg is back with the team, but not taken off the IR as of 12 PM Central time. Adam Vingan is reporting that the lines look like this:
Saros is expected to be the starter after a relaxing weekend at home. Probably the right move after Rinne, a 35-year-old goalie, had an action-packed all-star weekend.
- Glass houses: My terrible pun is due to the fact that the Hawks will likely start Jeff Glass or Anton Forsberg. Either way, those players are not Corey Crawford and combine to have a 91 save percentage. The Nashville Predators have a knack for playing back-ups and the trend continues. They have to take advantage of the weaker goaltending competition.
- Young or bad depth: The Nashville Predators boast one of the deepest rosters in the NHL and need to use their layered skill to dominate the bottom six. Speed kills, but so does depth.
Where to watch
The game will be on NBCSN at 7PM Central, and it can be heard on 102.5 The Game.