Nashville Predators (28-28-10) at Chicago Blackhawks (38-14-14)
|Date & Time||Friday March 14, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Chicago Blackhawks -221 / Nashville Predators +200 --- Over/Under: 5.5
The Blackhawks look to regain their position atop the Central division as they take on the Predators at the United Center.
The Predators have come on hard times over the last two seasons as perhaps no other roster other than the Devils has suffered as much of a blow as Nashville has with the departures of Ryan Suter, David Legwand, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Alex Radulov to name a few. Their hardships have been well documented and it is clear the loss of those players has hurt the team’s progression and has in fact caused a recession of the franchise who just two years ago was a Western Conference power. The Preds made strides at the draft last year as Seth Jones feel in their lap and another top end pick this season could send them back to respectability sooner rather than later especially if Pekka Rinne continues to play the way he can. Speaking of Rinne, the absence of the Finnish national definitely hurt the team this season and now that he is back it gives the team a greater shot at winning every single night of the week.
The Blackhawks find themselves in unfamiliar territory at the moment as the reigning Cup champions picked up right where they left off last June atop the NHL standings. However, the Hawks have hit a slight speed bump in their season as they have dropped down to fifth in the Western Conference thanks to some spectacular runs from the Blues and Avalanche. The Hawks have some breathing room behind them but they would no doubt like to get back to the top seed and finish the season with some confidence and avoid playing a tough first round matchup against a fellow Western Conference giant. Chicago is a heavy favourite in this spot and for good reason as they catch a Preds team who is coming off a win but hasn’t played well all season all the while playing in front of a raucous United Center crowd. I think the Hawks win this game easily but I also think that Rinne does enough to make the score line respectable and if that’s going to be the case I think this game stays under the total.