On Saturday night, the Nashville Predators made their way to the Windy City for the second of a back-to-back match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams decided to rest their number one goaltenders and give the back-ups a try in goal. Chicago’s Richard Panik netted a hat-trick to give the Blackhawks their first win of the season by a score of 5-3.
Marek Mazanec had a rough first period giving up three goals in the first 10:19 of the game. Luckily, Colin Wilson was able to tally a goal late in the first period to push back against the Blackhawks. During the second period, Nashville pulled the game to within one when Craig Smith scored a powerplay goal at 18:44 to give Chicago the 3-2 lead.
Chicago scored two more goals in the third period, while Viktor Arvidsson scored his first goal of the season. Nashville will look to rebound tonight as they welcome in the Dallas Stars into Bridgestone Arena.
Keys to Watch
Best Powerplay in the League
From an outsider’s perspective, there is no denying that the Nashville Predators have an aggressive powerplay unit. The Predators are currently tied for first place, along with the Carolina Hurricanes, for the best powerplay unit in the league at 50.0%. The best part of this unit has been its ability to receive production from multiple players, and not just depending on one to provide production. Some of the best teams in NHL history have been able to sustain an aggressive powerplay for the duration of a season. If Nashville can keep up half of this pace, fans could be in for a special season in Nashville.
Dallas’ Struggle in the Circle
Last season, the Dallas Stars were ranked 14th in the NHL in the face-off circle with 50.2% of wins. The face-off percentage for Dallas has dropped off dramatically where this season the Stars are last in the league with a face-off win percentage of 37.4%. This is in stark comparison of their positive play from a year ago. The Stars have the ability to beat you on so many different levels with their offense. The Stars are averaging 4.50 goals per game and 25% powerplay. They need to remedy their face-off woes.
Goaltending for Nashville
Concern for the Nashville goaltender became an apparent concern for the Nashville Predators organization after the struggles of Marek Mazanec during Saturday’s match-up against Chicago. The Preds have typically been able to depend upon their back-up, especially in recent history with Carter Hutton. Pekka Rinne cannot play 80+ games in a season. Mazanec needs to play better or the Predators will be looking for a veteran replacement or call-up Juuse Saros from Milwaukee. Keep an eye in the coming weeks at the goaltender position for Nashville. If Rinne’s play struggles, or he becomes unable to perform due to injury, all eyes will be placed upon Marek Mazanec. If he cannot play consistently, moves will need to be made.
The Predators will try to get back on their winning ways as they welcome in their division rival tonight at 7:00 pm. Be sure to catch all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.