Nashville hasn’t lost a home game since being pummeled 3-0 by the Penguins on October 25th, but another one was bound to happen sooner than later. Unfortunately for Preds fans, it came at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. What could add insult to injury is the fact that Chicago played the Montreal Canadiens last night at home, which usually puts said team at a disadvantage compared to a team [Nashville] who has a day to rest. Leave it to Chicago to bypass that hindrance and jump the Predators in the Central Division standings. You read that correctly:
Looking at the glass-half-full, this loss wasn’t as devastating (stats wise) as it might feel; especially if you have to listen to belligerent Hawks “fans” as you leave the arena tonight. Though Nashville was only given two powerplay chances and managed to detour Chicago’s four chances, those were still two advantages the Predators failed to capitalize on that could’ve changed the game. However, the Blackhawks do currently hold the best penalty kill in the league, but that’s no excuse. The Predators are now 1-for-45 on powerplay goals at home this season; 28th in league just above the Wild and the Sabres. It is a weakness in advantage that is slowly catching up to the Predators as they push forward into the season.
Another factor to look at is impact on Pekka Rinne. Though there is no way you’d rest him while playing divisional opponents, when is the man going to get a break? Rinne has appeared in the 23 games thus far, whereas Carter Hutton has only seen three games worth of ice time. Yes, Pekka has been the much needed asset for securing many of Nashville’s 17 wins, but it may be time to give the Finnish Phenom a rest or two. Perhaps that will be the case for Tuesday’s game against Colorado; though a Central Division opponent, they sit four rankings below the Predators in sixth. However, ranking position means nothing if you’re goaltender isn’t on point, but Hutton has had enough rest and might want to stretch his legs. Truly, the only other time Pekka might legitimately get a break is on the 22nd when Nashville goes into Columbus. Yes, Pekka Rinne has saved many a butt and missing him from the net is definitely a risk (See last season), but starting him every single game is also a risk. You may play your best golf with your 9-iron, but eventually you’ll need your putter.
Kudos to Colin Wilson tonight for not allowing the Blackhawks to celebrate a goose egg tonight. His wrister past former Mississippi RiverKings (and Milwaukee Admirals, yea) goaltender, Scott Darling was his sixth for the season; assisted by Victor Bartley (1) and Mike Fisher (2). If you are stuck on the Mississippi RiverKings mention, that’s because it’s a Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team and he is the first of said league to make it to the NHL. Jumping around that stat, Colin Wilson is certainly on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career. I mean, this kid went from constantly being tossed into Trotzy’s Doghouse to actually getting ice time to find his comfort zone. He has put up great numbers in the past, but I am foreseeing a much better performance from the 25-year-old under Laviolette’s system for sure.
Welp, don’t get too down, Preds fans; it’s Saturday night and, just remember: the Predators are doing 100x better than the Titans and shhh! Hockey’s not supposed to do better than football!