Nashville Predators Opponent Review: Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) and Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher (12) Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators will take on the Chicago Blackhawks to open the 2016-2017 season.

As Nashville Predators fans eagerly await the arrival of cooler weather and hockey season, everyone’s calendar should have October 14th circled. The gold and blue suit up to take on the red and black red and white red and black and white. Fans should be chomping at the bit to see the Preds open the season against rival Chicago.

While Nashville inches closer to marking 20 years in the NHL, the Blackhawks have provided much competition thus far and as a top-level team, and that doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Here, we take a look at a few facts (some serious, some not so much) about the Chicago Blackhawks:

St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks shake hands at 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Surprising Early Exit

The Blackhawks are accustomed to winning and expect that once the Stanley Cup playoffs come around they will make a deep run. Given their recent success winning the Cup three out of the last six seasons, who can blame them. Every year, the experts seemingly pick them to end up in the final, but last season they were wrong.

Facing the higher ranked St. Louis Blues, (does #2 vs.# 3 really mean that big of a difference?), the Blackhawks faced early adversity finding themselves down 3-1. In typical Blackhawk fashion, the team rallied back to force the series to a Game 7. In the end, they took a first round exit, no doubt leaving them hungry this season.

Chicago Blackhawks Andrew Shaw (65). Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

New Faces

It seems like everybody wants to come to the windy city and play for the Blackhawks. However, that comes at a cost (literally) with new players coming in and some players going out to keep the cap gods happy. Regardless, the Blackhawks don’t really end up losing talent- they just reload with different talent.

The Blackhawks traded Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell to the Hurricanes and Andrew Shaw saw himself banished to the Canadiens. Also opting not to resign the likes of Andrew Ladd, Chicago needs new, less proven players to step in and take a role in the team’s success. Whether or not that will be the case, we’ll wait and see.

Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa (81) and Duncan Keith (2). Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Thorn in the Preds’ Rose

You can’t help but feel that the Blackhawks are the hated rival of both the Nashville Predators and their fans. Going back to the first time a Preds team took the ice, the Blackhawks lead the series with a record of 59-49-4. Not really that big of a lead, but most of the damage recently has come in the playoffs.

In 2010, the Preds got their first taste of the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs losing the series 4-2. Fast forward to the 2015 playoffs and the Preds lose 4-2 again despite the Preds outscoring (with two blowouts) the Blackhawks and Chicago needing two overtime wins. It could also be the fans. Definitely the fans.

Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews (19). Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Digital Dominance

The Blackhawks obviously have good players that make it easy to win games. This is the only reason that I can come up with as to why almost every person plays as Chicago in EA Sports’ NHL franchise. Sporting many players in the Top Rated 50 players in NHL17, it’s no wonder players easily rack up wins.

Interestingly, our own Pekka Rinne fell at no. 32 on that list 13 ahead of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. Some might argue that Rinne doesn’t deserve to be higher than Crawford based solely on last season’s stats, which is true. However, parameters like reflexes, athleticism, and puck control factor into the higher rank.

**ONLY FOR USA TODAY NETWORK USE** Jun 10, 2016; Manchester, TN, USA; Jesse Yao of Tallahasse, FL holds an oversize pizza slice during the 2016 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival at Great Stage Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK

Mandatory Credit: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK

Overrated Indulgence

The Blackhawks didn’t create the Chicago-style deep dish pizza, but they are guilty by association. Pizza is one of the tastiest things you can eat and will vary in style depending on which part of the country you are at. However, this bread-fest of a pizza isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

You shouldn’t have to work at eating a pizza drowning in a sea of sauce. An old but good article from Thrillist even highlighted former Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s strong opinion on the matter. All kidding aside, the pizza is good, but not THAT good.

And finally:

Nashville Predators Ryan Johansen (92) and Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews (19). Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

36 days

The Preds and the Blackhawks meet in just 36 days. Both teams have had a long offseason to get put last season behind them and get ready for the battle on October 14th. Sure, it’s only one game but it is the first game of the season. Against a rival. What more can you ask for?

There is no doubt that the Preds fans will be wild with some red littered throughout the arena. Regardless of the outcome, this game will officially signify the return of hockey. I’m not sure if there is a better way to start off on the right foot than a Blackhawks beatdown at the Bridgestone Arena.

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