In what could amount to be a playoff preview in the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks duke it out in a big time clash on the ice on Sunday night.
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The Predators are really fighting hard to get home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They enter Sunday just a point back of the Detroit Red Wings for that distinction, but a loss in this game, and all of a sudden, they will be back in a tie for the No. 6 seed with just six games to play. Recent form hasn’t been good, as there are two brutal losses in the bunch of late. Nashville was knocked off by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers by a combined score of 11-4, though fortunately, the team did strike back with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. It marked the 40th win of the season for Pekka Rinne, who has been giving this team absolutely everything that he has. It’s not his fault if the team doesn’t succeed in the postseason, knowing that there isn’t a player on the roster that has put together even 60 points thus far on the campaign. Martin Erat leads all Predators with just 57 points.
The Blackhawks have been up and down all season long, but right now, they are as hot as could be. They have a brutal schedule left to end the regular season, but they do have five wins in a row to their credit. There is still a chance to end up with the No. 1 seed in the West, but those chances are thin at best, knowing that there are nine points to be made up in just seven games. Still, the three points that Chicago is back of the Red Wings is very possible to be made up, but a win in this one is going to be pivotal, especially here at home, where the team is 26-7-5 this year. There is a laundry list of players that are still out of the lineup for the Blackhawks. Duncan Keith has been suspended through the end of this month thanks to a vicious hit that he delivered on the ice a week ago, and Jonathan Toews is still nursing an upper body injury. Marcus Kruger has a concussion, as does Steve Montador, and both are expected to miss this one. Daniel Carcillo is already out for the year, and Sami Lepisto might miss the rest of the campaign as well. With all of these knocks, it is amazing that this Chicago team has been able to keep its head above water.
Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks Pick: In the end, we think that the Predators are going to struggle to try to get the two points out of this game. The Blackhawks are just an outstanding bunch here at home, and with as well as they are playing right now and for as suspect as Nashville is playing, we don’t think that it is at all unreasonable to lay the chalk.
Free Hockey Pick: Chicago Blackhawks
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.
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