The Chicago Blackhawks will wrap up a four-game homestand on Tuesday night when they welcome the Nashville Predators to the United Center, and they’ll be putting a seven-game winning streak on the line when they face their Central Division rival.
The Blackhawks, who have rapidly climbed up the standings and are now within shouting distance of the Dallas Stars, have been using an explosive offense and exceptional goaltending from Corey Crawford to fuel their rise, and a line shakeup in recent weeks is a big part of the reason why.
Andrew Shaw’s emergence on the top line has helped take some of the pressure off of Jonathan Toews andMarian Hossa, and both players have responded brilliantly as the team’s performance has improved.
The team’s second line has also begun finding its groove again after a brief ineffective spell, with Patrick Kane continuing to rack up MVP-caliber numbers and Artemi Panarin continuing to bolster his Calder Trophy case as the league’s best rookie.
As for Crawford, the goaltender has won his last five starts for the Blackhawks, including a 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, and he continues to post impressive numbers. He’s currently on pace to tie his career-high in save percentage, and he’s already racked up a career-high six shutouts in just 35 games so far this season.
As for the Predators, they are a team that has been trending in the opposite direction recently. The team has lost five of its last six games, including four in a row against Central Division opponents, and even the acquisition of Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets hasn’t been enough to stop they bleeding. They’ve scored just 10 goals in their last six games, and their goaltending hasn’t been up to par, as Pekka Rinne has allowed at least four goals in three of his last four starts.
Despite their struggles, the Predators have had some success against Chicago this season, picking up an impressive 5-1 victory over the Hawks in the teams’ last meeting in December. Rinne was exceptional in that game, stopping 35 shots, and the team’s penalty killing and power play units were perfect on that night at Bridgestone Arena.