Saturday, January 21, 2012
The Nashville Predators will host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena in a highly anticipated Central Division showdown. It will be the second meeting of the year between these two clubs. Chicago won the first game by a 5-4 score in overtime on Halloween night in the Windy City.
With their win last night against the Florida Panthers, the Blackhawks now sit atop the Western Conference with 64 points. Chicago has been on a roll as of late, winning three games in a row.
Nashville is coming off of a 3-0 shutout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. Pekka Rinne has been dominant as of late, winning each of the last six games that he has started.
Brandon Yip will likely make his debut for the Predators against the Blackhawks. Nashville acquired Yip on waivers from Colorado on Thursday. Yip has battled with injury so far this season, but it looks like he'll be in the lineup for the Predators tonight.
Marian Hossa and Jonathon Toews have been a two-headed monster for the Hawks this season. They are tied for the team lead in points with 50, and Toews is second in the NHL in goals scored with 27 on the year.
Chicago boasts one of the most complete teams in the NHL. They have the ability to get production out of all four lines. Nashville will have to be very sound defensively, and will have to convert on the power play chances they get.
My player to watch for the Chicago Blackhawks is Patrick Kane. He posted one goal and one assist on Friday night against Florida, and has some of the best hands in the NHL. He is a very skilled passer, and is one of the most creative players in the league in the shootout.
For Nashville, my player to watch is David Legwand. Legwand has 48 career points against the Blackhawks, and always seems to elevate his game when these two teams square off. In Nashville's 2010 playoff matchup with Chicago, Legwand led the team with seven points in the six-game series. It should be a good matchup between two of the hottest teams in the NHL.
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)