Chicago Blackhawks (46-19-15) at Nashville Predators (36-32-12)
|Date & Time||Saturday April 12, 2014, 8:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Nashville Predators / Chicago Blackhawks --- Over/Under:
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The Blackhawks look to head into the playoffs on a winning note as they head into Nashville to take on the surging Predators.
The Blackhawks have been locked into the three seed in the Central division for the better part of two weeks and now it is absolutely certain they will be playing on the road in their first two playoff games this season. However, their opening round opponent, which for weeks looked like it was going to be the young Colorado Avalanche, is now up in the air thanks to a five game losing streak by the St. Louis Blues who have relinquished their division lead and now could face the unenviable task of playing the defending champs in the first round. Chicago is still shorthanded as both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are out of the lineup but with their standing being in stone it is a smart move to rest their stars as both will be back for game one of the playoffs. Chicago would love to gain some momentum on the road against the Predators but they know it`ll be a tough task to upend a team playing with a ton of confidence and nothing to lose.
The Predators are playing like world beaters at the moment as they are coming off a huge shutout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes which essentially ended their playoff aspirations and now they have a shot at taking down the Blackhawks on home ice. Nashville has won seven of their last 10 games and have points in nine of them but ultimately their slow start prevented them from making the postseason which with two games left on the year has to be a bit frustrating for a team in a rebuild mode who came up short at the end. Had Pekka RInne been with the team all season long there is no telling how far the Preds would have gone but it is certain they are a better team with him between the pipes and if he can stay healthy next year they could be back in the playoff fold. While Chicago is the better team I expect they`ll be resting some guys in this one and as such I think Nashville continues their strong play and skate away a winner in this one.