It wasn’t that long ago that a matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena would be one of the ‘can’t miss’ games of the year. That’s no longer the case, as the Blackhawks have fallen on hard times which has muted some of the rancor between Nashville and Chicago. Patrick Kane will still hear it from the Nashville faithful but the reality is that Chicago is just another Western Conference team that the hometown Predators are expected to beat.
The Blackhawks are in a three way tie for the worst record in the Western Conference at 3-5-2 for 8 points. The Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild are also mired at the bottom of the table with 8 points and this trio is one back of the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks, each with 9 points. Nashville is in a tight pack near the top of the conference. The Colorado Avalanche currently lead the Central Division with 17 points while Nashville and St. Louis are right behind with 15 points. In terms of the Conference standings, Colorado and the Edmonton Oilers are tied at the top with 17 points, the Vegas Golden Knights have 16 points and then it’s a four way tie at 15 points between the Preds, Blues, Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks. Right behind this quartet at 14 points are Anaheim and Calgary.
Nashville enters this contest having won three straight and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. Blackhawks are coming off of a 5-1 home win over Los Angeles which says more about the decrepit state of the once mighty Kings than anything else. That win ended a four game losing streak. Predators are coming off one of their best wins of the season, a hard fought 3-2 OT win on Saturday at Tampa Bay. They have a pair of ‘winnable’ home games coming up against Calgary on Halloween night and on November 2 against the New York Rangers.
Nashville has won three of the last 4 between the Preds and the Hawks at Bridgestone Arena but we’re much more interested in the total. The Predators have ramped up their offense so far this season and lead the NHL in goals scored per game with 4.09. They’ll be helped by the generally poor play of Chicago starter Corey Crawford who is 1-4-0 with a 3.67 goals against average and a 0.888 save percentage. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne has played well but if Chicago can get a goal or two this looks like an easy ‘Over’.