The Chicago Blackhawks will return to home ice for the first time this postseason as they take on the Nashville Predators Sunday afternoon, and there is a lot at stake in the game as both teams look to grab control of the series.
For the Predators, they will have to contend with the loss of their top defenseman, Shea Weber, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago for the game. They are also dealing with injuries at the center position, as Mike Fisher continues to struggle with an ailment. Both of those factors could leave them facing some tough obstacles in the game.
Even with those injuries, the Predators are a dangerous team that just knocked off the Blackhawks in emphatic fashion, so we’re taking a look at three Hawks players that need to step up in order for the team to win and wrest control of the series back from the Preds.
Keith has played well all season despite having to skate with players like Michal Rozsival, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on how he plays Sunday afternoon. He’s been playing a ton of difficult minutes so far in this series, and fatigue could end up playing a factor in his performance Sunday if Joel Quenneville continues to deploy his defensemen like he has so far in this series.
One game after the top two lines struggled for the Blackhawks, the top six forwards seemed to get things together well on Friday night as they combined to be a plus-39 in the Corsi statistic. Saad contributed with a plus-4 in the category, and even though he didn’t appear on the scoresheet, he still had a solid game overall.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, solid play from their top line won’t get the job done on Sunday. They’ll need their star forwards to take advantage of home ice, and that means making sure to take advantage of line matchups that will favor them for the first time in the series. Saad had only one point in his last six games, and he’ll need to up that total in order for Chicago to win.
Teravainen is a player that has generally been a positive possession player even in limited time on the fourth line in recent weeks, but he had an off-game on Friday night, finishing with negative Corsi and Fenwick numbers. He didn’t even crack 11 minutes played in the contest.
If Teravainen is going to be at his best, he needs to play with more confidence and enthusiasm in this game. He is a player that has the skillset to make defenders miss and create scoring opportunities, and he’ll have to do that for the Hawks Sunday.