Start at the top and work down. Predators-Blackhawks (Round 1) preview.

The Nashville Predators are now in the playoffs. But it didn’t come as easy as most had figured. The acquisition of P.K. Subban was expected to boost us to a Central Division Championship and Stanley Cup contender-ship. Instead, we have the same record and pretty much the same strong defensive play and inconsistent offensive play as last season.

Funny thing is, we’re essentially starting at the top of the mountain. The Chicago Blackhawks are my most hated hockey team. Ever since we stopped being in the same division as Detroit, the ‘Hawks have been our top rivals. But though we may not like it, they are the kings of hockey with three Stanley Cups so far this decade. Wouldn’t surprise me if they make it four right now.

Not saying I would like that.

Who concerns me the most about the Blackhawks? Pretty much the whole team, but here’s the top dogs: near impenetrable goalie Corey Crawford, the swift Patrick Kane, and the general that is Joel Quenneville.

That said, am I scared of the Blackhawks? No! The players tell the press that they’re not scared. I believe them. We have never been afraid of the Blackhawks. We beat them our fair share of the time. We can win this series. The psychological boost of beating possibly the best team in the NHL would go a long way towards winning the Stanley Cup.

Meantime this rivalry is on!

Will we do it? Pekka Rinne and (and Juuse Saros, although he won’t be playing) has been tending our goal well lately. He’s allowed more than three goals just twice and less than two three times in his last ten games. Despite the phenomenal talent of Corey Crawford, that’s good enough to do the job on defense.

Trouble is, we haven’t been so good on offense. Sometimes we score a lot, sometimes there’s only a vertical line on the scoreboard. I hope guys like Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen can deliver here.

We have to step up in these situations.

So yeah, much respect to the run Chicago has put together, but they’re still rivals and in our way. Welcome to Smashville!

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