The recipe for defeating the Predators is rather elementary for the Blackhawks: play a suffocating defense, provide net-front coverage, outwork the opponent, connect on passes, and avoid unforced errors.
Assuming a victory on Friday, this evening's match is a must-win scenario for the Blackhawks in order to pull even with the Predators for 4th place in the Central Division by the end of the 3-game series.
Regardless, the Stars have overtaken the Hawks for 5th place with a 3-point lead in the standings and a game in hand to boot. Yet, the Hawks also have a game in hand to the Predators trailing them by 4 points.
Game 47, April 21
Blackhawks vs Predators
Blackhawks, 21-20-5, 47 Pts (6th)
Predators, 25-21-1, 51 Pts (4th)
Blackhawks, 2.76 (19th)
Predators, 2.57 (25th)
Blackhawks, 3.09 (20th)
Predators, 2.81 (15th)
Blackhawks, 34-144, 23.6% (7th)
Predators, 25-137, 18.3% (22nd)
Blackhawks, 97-128, 75.8% (27th)
Predators, 111-148, 75.0% (29th)
Assuming that Brandon Hagel obtained his second false positive COVID-19 test, he should be eligible to return to the lineup this evening. No formal announcement on his status has been made at time of print.
The IceHogs have a showdown against the Wolves in suburban Hoffman Estates this evening at 7:00pm CST before heading westward to Des Moines for a 2-game set against the Wild on Friday and Saturday.
Earlier in the week, I contributed to the Kraken blog on HockeyBuzz written by Sean Maloughney
who also writes for the Oilers blog. His latest series is a second installment of a mock expansion draft.
Here is my contribution to Sean's blog:
* Alex DeBrincat
* Brandon Hagel
* David Kampf
* Patrick Kane
* Alex Nylander
* Dylan Strome
* Jonathan Toews
* Duncan Keith
* Connor Murphy
* Nikita Zadorov
* Kevin Lankinen
* Ryan Carpenter
* Brett Connolly
* Adam Gaudette
* Vincent Hinostroza
* Calvin de Haan
* Riley Stillman
* Collin Delia
* Malcolm Subban
Several forwards who could easily be exposed don't qualify by not meeting the games played requirement, i.e. Josh Dickinson, Victor Ejdsell, Brandon Pirri, John Quenneville, Andrew Shaw, and Zack Smith. Henrik Borgstrom would likely be protected if he qualified.
Defensemen Anton Lindholm and Riley Stillman are presently not meeting the games played requirement. Lindholm has 27 games left and won't reach that limit being on Chicago's AHL team but Stillman has 7 games left to reach the limit and likely will qualify.
It's also important to note that Brent Seabrook has 22 games left to qualify but he is retired and on LTIR until his contract expires so he is effectively ineligible. Even if healthy, he has a NMC like Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Jonathan Toews.
For the goalies, Kevin Lankinen is the Blackhawks starter for the foreseeable future so it's a no brainer to protect him out of the 3 goalies possible. That leaves Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban exposed.
Notable players who are exempt from exposure include forwards Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik, Philipp Kurashev, and Pius Suter as well as defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, and Wyatt Kalynuk.
To supplement the initial commentary that I contributed in the Kraken blog which was solely to propose Chicago's protection and exposure lists, I would like to share additional commentary here in the Blackhawks blog to further explore the impacts on the organization.
A caveat to mention is that the protection and exposure lists are based on data pulled from CapFriendly
. Despite what is published on this site, there are some discrepancies with what analysts have stated. For instance, one discrepancy is that Borgstrom is required to be exposed.
According to CapFriendly, though, Borgstrom doesn't meet the games played requirement to be eligible for exposure being 27 games away from the threshold. If that is in fact true, that is a plus for Chicago so they can use one of their protection slots on someone else.
As far as forwards, there is likely considerable debate on whether it's necessary to protect Nylander and/or Strome. Both have top 9 potential that is still untapped but a point of contention is over how long do you wait for them to permanently explode onto the scene.
Strome will be entering his last year of a $3,000,000 AAV contract while Nylander is a pending RFA whose ELC is expiring but his contract renewal would be quite affordable given his mediocre track record and being out of commission all season.
Is 2021-22 their last shot or does one or both get exposed to Seattle? Even if one or both remain with Chicago, there's still the possibility of dangling them in trades this offseason to gain future assets and/or upgrades elsewhere on the roster.
In terms of blueliners, the dichotomy may come down to protecting either de Haan or Zadorov. Keith has a NMC so he's required to be protected. Murphy is arguably the team's best defensive defenseman who is in his prime so it's best to protect him.
In de Haan's case, he has a year remaining at $4,550,000 AAV before becoming a 2022 UFA. Health is a constant concern for him so his trade value isn't high and the same could be said about his draft value, too. In other words, even if exposed, the Kraken could skip over him.
Like Nylander, Zadorov is also a pending RFA. Is it better to trade him to gain something in return rather than lose him to Seattle for nothing? Compared to de Haan, Zadorov is younger and more durable so he could be attractive to the Kraken if exposed.
As for Stillman, a case could be made that he should be the one to protect assuming he meets the games played requirement which is now down to an attainable 5 games. He may be able to bring the same elements as Zadorov minus the size and at a fraction of the cost.
Even if de Haan or Zadorov gets exposed and claimed by the Kraken and the other gets dealt, there obviously needs to be a plan to replace them. Is Stillman a solution? Any of this year's rookies Mitchell, Beaudin, and/or Kalynuk? An affordable free agent?
Then there's exposing forwards Carpenter, Connolly, Gaudette, and Hinostroza. Similarly to the decision to protect Lankinen over Subban and Delia being an easy one, so is this decision given that none of them would create a significant hole if selected by Seattle.
Part of the plan for the next year of the rebuild may be replacing any of these forwards with prospects. Space may need to be made for Lukas Reichel and Borgstrom. MacKenzie Entwistle, Reese Johnson, and even Evan Barratt, Andrei Altybarmakian, or Josiah Slavin may be in the mix, too.
See you on the boards!