The Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators will meet in the first round in the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, two of the best teams in the league, are set to face off in the first round of the NHL playoffs. This will be one of the more exciting match ups in the Western Conference.
The two have plenty of similarities, such as their strength in terms of puck possession and the fact that they have both struggled late in the regular season. The Predators are entering the playoffs on a six-game losing streak. The Blackhawks aren’t much better, they’re entering the playoffs on a four-game losing streak.
The Predators finished the regular season 47-25-10 with 104 points. Goalie Pekka Rinne finished first in the league with a .721 start percentage, but hasn’t recorded a quality start in his last five games. He also allowed 17 goals in that five game span.
The Blackhawks finished 48-28-6 with 102 points. Goalie Corey Crawford finished 3rd in the league with a .696 start percentage. What’s going to make a huge difference for this team, is the return of forward Patrick Kane. He broke his clavicle on February 24 and was expected to be out for 12 weeks. The team did well without him during the regular season, going 21-8-1 in 21 games. Thankfully, he’s returning earlier than expected.
Since entering the league and joining the Blackhawks, Kane has only missed one out of 94 playoff games. He’s racked up 54 assists and 37 goals, 7 of which were game winners.
PLAYERS TO LOOK FOR:
Predators defenseman Shea Weber, if he’s healthy, is their muscle. He has a history of beating up some big name players, which will make a lot of Blackhawks fans nervous. James Neal, 5 of his 23 goals this season have been against Chicago. Filip Forsberg, he was the teams top scorer with 26 goals in the regular season. Finally, Pekka Rinne is one of the leagues best goalies.
As for the Blackhawks, keep your eye out the Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane duo. They’re unstoppable. Marian Hossa is half offense and half defense. A pure master of the game. Niklas Hjalmarsson, one of the most underrated defenseman, will be sliding all over the ice blocking shots. Finally, Corey Crawford who can be one of the leagues top goalies when he performs at his best.
Nashville’s Eric Nystrom is still sidelined with a lower body injury. Cody Franson is day to day with an upper body injury, he did not practice with the team on Monday. Roman Josi has been sidelined with a lower body injury but was able to practice with the team Monday. Shea Weber’s been suffering a lower body injury, but returned to practice Monday. Mike Fisher is day to day with a lower body injury, he also practiced Monday. Chicago’s Trevor Van Riemsdyk will be out about seven more weeks with a wrist injury and Daniel Carcillo has yet to skate after suffering an upper body injury in late March.
I believe the return of Patrick Kane will get the Blackhawks back on track, so I am taking Chicago in 6.
GAME 1: April 15, Chicago @ Nashville 8:30ET/7:30CT NBCSN
GAME 2: April 17, Chicago @ Nashville 9:30ET/8:30CT NBCSN
GAME 3: April 19, Chicago vs. Nashville 3:00ET/2:00CT NBC
GAME 4: April 21, Chicago vs. Nashville 9:30ET/8:30CT NBCSN
IF GAME 5: April 23, TBA
IF GAME 6: April 25, TBA
IF GAME 7: April 27, TBA
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