After losing the last three games, the Nashville predators hope to escape the slump as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2 game mini-series. The Blackhawks lost their first 3 games but with back-to-back wins against the Detroit Red Wings, are suddenly back in the middle of the pack in the Central Division. With both teams hoping to eclipse the .500 mark, this mini-series can be pivotal in determining who will compete in the division.
Chicago just pummeled the Red WingsIt looked like the sky was falling in Chicago and a reset was inevitable as they lost their first four games (only amounting to one point with an overtime loss). After sweeping the Detroit Red Wings with resounding 4-1 and 6-2 victories, the Blackhawks are suddenly back and ready to climb the standings. The offense has led the way with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat continuing to play exceptionally as they have combined for 13 points on the season thus far.
The defense and goaltending have been Chicago's downfall. While the offense has scored 19 goals this season, the defense has allowed 23 with only the top pair of defensemen in Nikita Zadorov and Duncan Keith, and Calvin De Han contributing more than 10 blocked shots this season. The goaltending situation has been a nightmare as Malcolm Subban allowing 5 goals in his only start while Collin Delia allowed 10 goals in the two games he started. The hope is that Kevin Lankinen is the answer in goal as he allows fewer than 3 goals per game in the 3 games he started.
Predators is struggling on the offensive endThe Predators were regarded as a team on the decline and after winning their first two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it's easy to see why. The Predators have lost their last three games and have failed to score more than 2 goals in any of the games. The offense as a whole has struggled this year with only Filip Forsberg and Luke Kunin scoring more than 2 goals on the season on an offense that only has 12 goals in the first five games.
The defense continues to be the cornerstone of the Predators' success. Roman Josi is coming off a Norris Trophy season, which is awarded to the best defenseman in the NHL while Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm have combined for 26 blocked shots on the season. The goaltending has seen a transition from 38-year-old Pekka Rinne to 25-year-old Juuse Saros who has started 4 of the 5 games for Nashville and is allowing fewer than 3 goals per game.