The Chicago Blackhawks, riding a two-game winning streak, will head into Nashville Tuesday to take on the Predators in the first of two back-to-back contests.
Start Time: 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago
Betting Line: Predators (-1.5), O/U 6.5
The Blackhawks will go into Tuesday’s game as winners of two contests in a row, but their lineup was dealt two significant blows as forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist were both placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
According to head coach Jeremy Colliton, both players will miss at least two weeks as a result, leaving them out of the mix for some tough games against several strong Central Division teams.
The absences will hurt the Blackhawks on the power play, as both Boqvist and DeBrincat skate with the team’s first power play unit. The Blackhawks have scored at least one goal on the man-advantage in each of their six games so far this season.
DeBrincat has also been key in the success of the team’s top forward grouping, with Pius Suter and Patrick Kane having strong starts to the regular season.
To replace DeBrincat and Boqvist, Matthew Highmore will rejoin the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last five contests, and Lucas Carlsson will join the lineup in Boqvist’s place. He hasn’t played in a game yet this season.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban, who gave up five goals in the Blackhawks’ first game of the season, will finally get back into net for the start on Tuesday. Kevin Lankinen started the last three games for the Blackhawks, while Collin Delia got the starts in the second and third games of the regular season.
As for the Predators, they are trying to bounce back after a rough stretch that’s seen them lose three games in a row, giving up 14 goals in the process while scoring only four. Their weekend series against the Dallas Stars was especially rough, as they were outscored 10-2 and saw Jusse Saros get lit up in both contests.
The team is still waiting for several key players to step up, including forward Matt Duchene, who has no goals and two assists in five games, and defenseman Roman Josi, who has one assist in the first five contests.
Fortunately for the Predators, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg have both gotten off to solid starts this season, five and four points in five games, respectively.
Even still, they’ll need to really step up their game on special teams, as Nashville is just 2-of-20 on the power play to start the season. Their penalty kill is even worse, currently second-worst in the league at 55%.