The playoff atmosphere began a few nights ago, but it reaches the tipping point starting tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks have a Stanley Cup Playoff spot within their reach, but the only thing standing in their way right now is a two-point difference between them and the Nashville Predators. Still looking for their first win of the season over Nashville, the Blackhawks have nine of their final 11 games this season against teams in a current playoff position, so every game and every point is up for grabs in a playoff-like atmosphere from here on out. At the same time, we are all Detroit Red Wings fans tonight, as they take on the Dallas Stars who are just a single point behind the Blackhawks in the Central Division playoff race.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, BSSO
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200 AM
Blackhawks (21-19-5, 47 pts)
DeBrincat – Dach – Gaudette
Hinostroza – Suter – Kane
Kubalík – Kurashev – Strome
Connolly – Kämpf – Carpenter
Keith – Kalynuk
de Haan – Murphy
Stillman – Zadorov
Predators (24-21-1, 49 pts)
Grimaldi – Johansen – Arvidsson
Järnkrok – Granlund – Kunin
Cousins – Haula – Duchene
Trenin – Sissons – Jeannot
Josi – Benning
Ekholm – Ellis
Harpur – Gudbranson
Adam Boqvist (Day-to-day – Concussion)
Brent Seabrook (LTIR – Retirement)
Zack Smith (LTIR – Back)
Andrew Shaw (LTIR – Concussion)
Alex Nylander (LTIR – Knee)
Jonathan Toews (LTIR – Illness)
Filip Forsberg (Week-to-week – Upper Body)
Brad Richardson (Day-to-day – Lower Body)
Mark Borowiecki (Week-to-week – Upper Body)
Luca Sbisa (Day-to-day – Upper Body)
Matt Benning (Day-to-day – Upper Body)
Alexandre Carrier (Week-to-week – Lower Body)
Mathieu Olivier (Week-to-week – Lower Body)
Eeli Tolvanen (Week-to-week – Lower Body)
Dante Fabbro (Week-to-week – Upper Body)
What To Watch For
• After getting the full night off on Saturday, Kevin Lankinen likely gets back in net for the Blackhawks tonight. Even after Malcolm Subban’s 29-save shutout on Saturday, the Blackhawks seem locked into giving Lankinen the keys to the Cadillac and driving them into the postseason or off the cliff. Lankinen is 0-2-1 this season against the Predators, holding a .928 save-percentage and 2.31 GAA in three starts.
• On the other end of the ice, Juuse Saros gets the start tonight for the Predators. He has been lights out against the Blackhawks this season with a 3-0-0 record, one shutout, a .980 save-percentage, and a .065 GAA in three starts. Today is also Saros’ 26th birthday.
• Special teams has been a strong point for both teams in their five meetings this season, mainly on the penalty-kill. Chicago has killed nine of Nashville’s ten powerplay opportunities against them this season, while the Predators have killed 14 of the Blackhawks’ 15 powerplay chances. Since March 25th, the Blackhawks rank 29th in the NHL in times short-handed (23) and seventh in the league on the penalty-kill (87.0%).
Get Caught Up …
De Haan skated this morning, he said.
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 19, 2021
The Predators have frustrated the Blackhawks more than any other team, stifling their transition game. To win, they'll have to change their identity and style for a few games.
Alex DeBrincat: "It's obviously tough. We haven't won yet. It's something we have to buy into."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 19, 2021
DeBrincat: "It’s something we’re going to have to buy into if we’re going to win this game. We’re probably not going to score on 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. We’re going to have to get in there, work hard, do some dirty work to get the puck in the net."
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 19, 2021
Patrick Kane said this 3-game set with Nashville isn't just important experience for the young guys, but for the vets, too. "The success hasn't been here as a team, as an organization, where we want it to be. These are huge games for all of us."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 18, 2021
Jeremy Colliton on upcoming three-game series vs. Nashville: "It's kind of a playoff series for us." #Blackhawks
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) April 18, 2021