The Chicago Blackhawks’ freefall out of the playoff landscape continued on Wednesday night, as the New York Rangers walked into the United Center and blew out the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks attempted to keep the game interesting, but the Rangers ultimately pulled away for a 6-3 win. It was a really poor night for Robin Lehner between the pipes.
The Rangers got to him for 6 goals on 41 shots to hand the Blackhawks their seventh loss in their last eight games. He finished the contest with a shaky 0.854 save percentage for a tough night at the office for Lehner. It was a tough night for everyone on the Blackhawks, as they were outplayed in all facets of the game.
The Blackhawks are technically alive when it comes to the playoffs. They’re 8 points behind the final wildcard, so that’s within reach, but the season continues to get shorter with each passing day and they have four teams ahead of them. With just one win in their last eight games, the Blackhawks would be in a pretty good position if that wasn’t the case.
Just some average hockey over the last two weeks and the Blackhawks would be in decent shape. However, the recent slump has put them in a tough spot. That’s not what the front office wanted to see from Jeremy Colliton behind the bench. As soon as it looked like he had control of this team, they suddenly regressed hard.
In all likelihood, the Blackhawks will not be going to the playoffs and some difficult decisions will have to be made in the offseason. It’ll be interesting to see what the Blackhawks do with their roster. Expectations weren’t sky-high for the Blackhawks in 2019-20, but certainly better than a .500 record of 26-26-8 and 60 points in the latter stages of February was expected.
The Blackhawks have been too reliant on Patrick Kane this season. He’s definitely supposed to carry the load, but support from others on a nightly basis has been spotty. Kane has been the only real consistent contributor that the Blackhawks have had. Jonathan Toews has come around after a slow start, though he’s still been a bit too inconsistent compared to Kane.
The Nashville Predators are in a better position in the Western Conference. They’re eyeing the playoffs, as they head into Chicago with a record of 29-23-7 and 65 points. The Predators are 3 points behind the Flames for the final playoff spot, and have played two fewer games and four fewer than the Coyotes, who are currently ahead of them. That provides the Predators with a cushion down the stretch, but they’ll have to make good on those extra games. Head below for our free Predators vs. Blackhawks pick.
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks Betting Odds:
Predators vs. Blackhawks Prediction:
The Predators were on a nice little run until the Carolina Hurricanes ruined a three-game winning streak. With the potential to add four straight wins, the Predators fell by a score of 4-1 on Tuesday night at home. They were winners against the Islanders in an impressive 5-0 showing, and then swept the Blues in a home and home, which was impressive as well. That’s 6 important points that may come in handy for the Predators later in March. The Predators won five of seven games before losing to the Hurricanes. What will it take for the Predators to get to the playoffs? I think that answer is pretty easy. If Pekka Rinne can find his elite game when it matters most in March, then the Predators are going to be tough to ignore.
This hasn’t been a textbook year for Rinne, as he’s in danger of finishing with a GAA above 3.00 for the first in his career as a starting goaltender. His previous career-low was set in 2013-14 with a 2.77, so he’s well off the mark. Rinne enters Friday with a 3.04 GAA and 0.898 save percentage. Nashville has used Juuse Saros as well this season, but the results have been similar, with a 2.96 GAA and 0.903 save percentage. The offence has been carrying the bulk of the workload, but that alone won’t get the Predators into the playoffs. Although, it could be enough to dispatch the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Without Patrick Kane getting a full complement of support, the offence has been largely inconsistent for the Blackhawks. They have their moments, but it has been hit and miss. The Blackhawks are 19th in the NHL with 2.93 goals scored per game. That drops slightly to 2.86 goals per contest at the United Center. The Madhouse on Madison hasn’t been too friendly to the Blackhawks in 2019-20. They’ve gone just 12-13-4 after enjoying solid home ice advantage at home throughout their Stanley Cup runs.
Conversely, the Predators have elevated their game away from the Bridgestone Center. Nashville has notched 3.47 goals per game on the road as opposed to an overall average of 3.19 goals per game. The Predators have been productive on the road, with a record of 16-11-3 compared to 13-12-4 at home in Nashville. They’ve had no issues winning in Chicago, as they are 5-2 in their previous seven games at the United Center. Overall, the Preds have had the upper-hand recently, with wins in four of their last five meetings. Consider the Predators on Friday night.