Nashville Predators Playing for Consistency Against Chicago Blackhawks

Jan 26, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) waits for a face off during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) waits for a face off during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are coming off a game that probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but the good news for the Smashville faithful is that they pulled off the W against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, thanks to the overtime heroics from Captain Roman Josi.

The team will turn around and play the second half of the double header tonight against Chicago, and the hope is that this game can show progress and consistency the team is desperately in need of.

Take a look at Josi’s game-winner which was his first goal of the season:

Here are some key things to look for leading into tonight’s game in a crowded division race for the top-four spots that earn a playoff berth.

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Goaltender Matchup

Pekka Rinne got last night’s win, while Malcolm Subban took the loss.

Due to the back-to-back nature of the matchup, it only makes sense Juuse Saros will be in net for the Nashville Predators against Kevin Lankinen of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Saros currently has a 3.02 GAA while boasting a .905 SV%, while on the other end, Lankinen has a 2.63 GAA and a .909 SV%.

Saros’ numbers are a bit misleading, as he played in the Dallas blowout, amidst a defense that committed multiple penalties alongside mental errors. When at even strength, he’s a much better goalie.

Lankinen on the other end has had a better start than Chicago could have anticipated given their roster woes. He is 2-0-1, and has managed to play well overall, though the level of competition he was pitted against when securing the wins was against another bad team in the Red Wings.

Clean Hockey is Good Hockey

The Nashville Predators’ woes this season have been due almost entirely to special teams shortcomings.

Chicago is the type of team that can make you pay on the power play, and they did just that on Tuesday night. The team cannot afford to commit stupid penalties that leave the team in a bad situation.

Diving more into the penalty kill, the team improved in last night’s game, but there are still some issues in this area.

While players are getting in better position, they must do more to clear the offensive zone, and not let the Blackhawks get set up for scoring chances. Though Chicago has had some injury problems, they still have the likes of Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Pius Suter that can do damage.

On the flip-side, the team has shown the slightest of improvement to the power play since playing Dallas.

In Tuesday night’s game, the Predators were mostly crisp in passing, the setup was decent, and they were getting second chances. A puck bounce here or there could be the difference, but the Nashville Predators need to stay aggressive.

More. Nashville Predators Special Teams Must Improve. light

Guns Blazing

The Nashville Predators have to generate offense, and they need to do so with the ones who are getting it done.

Filip Forsberg is on a tear, Mikael Granlund looks like one of the best forwards on the team, and Viktor Arvidsson has come so very close to lighting the lamps more times than he actually has.

If posts were points, this team may lead the league; alas, that’s not the case.

The first goal generated from a blue-liner was Josi’s overtime winner last night, and that’s behind the pace set in previous years by a defensive unit that’s known for generating offense.

Look for Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm to get going, but really look for Dante Fabbro to light it up – remember those posts? He’s hit more of them than almost anyone else on the team.

Wherever the offense is generated from, it needs to come closer to the net. The Predators have been notorious in taking shots 25 feet or more away from the goal, and these shots haven’t generated second chances; if anything, they’ve resulted in the opposition clearing the puck out of the offensive zone.

The team needs to crash the net, get second chances, and win down front. Good things will happen from there.

Special Teams…

Listen, we know where we stand. The Nashville Predators have a bad power play only made worse by a woeful penalty kill…I don’t need to break down the stats for you – we all know it has to improve.

The projected lineup from the team’s website doesn’t offer any changes, other than Saros getting the start. Rocco Grimaldi might continue to be out of the lineup as a scratch, while Calle Jarnkrok is still on IR.

The time for talk, coach speak, etc. is over – it’s time to execute. We’ll see if it happens tonight. Prayers go up, blessings come down (hopefully).

Game will be televised nationally on NBCSN at 6:30 P.M CDT and also broadcasted on 102.5 The Game.