The Chicago Blackhawks will be looking for their seventh consecutive win on Saturday night, and before they take the ice against the Nashville Predators, they got some good news on the injury front.
After missing Friday’s game against New York, center Artem Anisimov will be back in the lineup for the Blackhawks for Saturday’s game. In 59 games this season, Anisimov has 22 goals and 21 assists, and he has been a key contributor to the team’s second line, with Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane both among the league leaders in scoring this season.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, not all of the injury news was good as they prepare for a potential first round playoff preview. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is still out of the lineup as he deals with an upper body injury, and he’ll be joined on the shelf for Saturday’s game by forward Nick Schmaltz, who is still dealing with an illness that kept him out of Friday’s game as well.
For Schmaltz and Hjalmarsson, they’ll have plenty of time to get back to full strength before Chicago’s next game. The Blackhawks won’t play again until Thursday when they welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the United Center, meaning that the players will have four additional days to rest and recuperate from their ailments.
Saturday’s game is an important one for both teams, as the Predators will be looking to reel the Blackhawks back in a bit after Chicago’s lengthy winning streak. Currently the Predators sit 14 points behind the Blackhawks with just 18 games left to play in the season, and if the season ended today, the Blackhawks would have home-ice advantage against Nashville in the first round.
While Nashville will be looking to keep the Blackhawks within range, Chicago will be looking to keep pace with the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division title hunt. As things stand going into Saturday’s action, the Blackhawks trail by just one point in the standings, but the Wild still have two games in hand, meaning that every point is critical down the stretch.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and the game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.