Typically I would be more than thrilled to talk about this matchup and all match ups against the Blackhawks. I'm going to have to be honest with you Nashville, I'm quite worried. Well maybe worried is the wrong word, maybe more disappointed? I'm really not sure how I feel.
Preds have put themselves in a tough spot despite the Johansen trade with the 3-5 loss against Colorado and a shutout against Nashville in Arizona (0-4). The Blackhawks are currently on a 7 game win streak and hopefully our boys can end that tonight.
Although we haven't seen a win with Johansen in the lineup, we have to remember that in less than 24 hours after the trade transaction, Johansen was thrown into the lineup. The team has had some off time and a practice on Monday, so I think that should make a positive difference in communication between the newly acquired Predator and his line. He's already showed us a ray of light and his skill set, I think it's just a matter of time before the cylinders begin to all click together again. I just hope its not too late when they do.
Shea Weber is two points behind the franchise record holder, Timonen, for points against the Blackhawks. Weber is second in the NHL of all time for goals against Chicago by a defenseman. Josi still leads the team in points, and Mike Fisher is on a five game point streak against the Hawks. Pekka Rinne has been a spot for a little worry with a 16-13-6 record for his 35 game starts. Should we be concerned? Will the REAL Pekka Rinne show up soon? I know a good portion of that record lays in the defense and forward stepping up, but last season we could rely on Pekks to steal us wins when the rest of team would be lacking.
Colin Wilson is the only Predator who did not partake in Monday's practice, and I would expect a new winger to slide into his slot for the game tonight.
Keys for tonights game: Puck control on the Power Play and find ways to move the goalie's vision. Prevent going on the Penalty Kill, but if we do have to Kill, we need to focus on the man, not the puck. Prevent opposing breakouts. Better communication between forwards and puck control. No more dump and chase unless there is a plan.
The Preds are more than capable to gain two points in tonights matchup. Not sure anybody is equipped to predict a guess on the outcome. The Preds come out looking like the best team in the NHL on some days and others look like a bad example of what not to do. Consistency is the answer, and I hope Johansen can eventually bring that to our club. Despite the lack of wins, I believe the Preds will walk away tonight with a 3-2 win agains the Hawks.
Go Preds and Happy Game-Day Smashville!