Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville rarely has been shy about shuffling the deck when the results haven’t gone his way. As a result, the Blackhawks will feature new defensive pairings on Friday, when they host the Nashville Predators.
Former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will be split up, with the former being paired with rookie Jan Rutta while the latter will play alongside Gustav Forsling. “We want to see how it looks,” Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve seen this look for a while. Maybe the pairs will give us more ... balance or predictability. We need to improve there as well.” The Blackhawks have lost three of four since posting a 2-1 overtime win over Nashville on Oct. 14, while the Predators have dropped back-to-back contests and mustered just five goals in their last three games. Filip Forsberg scored his team-leading seventh goal in Nashville’s 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary on Tuesday and also tallied in the first encounter with Chicago.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network, TVA, FSN Tennessee (Nashville), NBCSN Chicago
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (4-3-2): Defenseman P.K. Subban snapped his three-game point drought Tuesday by setting up a goal for the team-leading seventh time this season. The 28-year-old Subban also had an assist against Chicago two weeks ago and registered three points (one goal, two assists) in three meetings with the Blackhawks in 2016-17. Ryan Johansen has notched an assist in back-to-back contests and has six on the season but still is looking for his first goal since signing an eight-year, $64 million contract in July.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (5-3-2): Brandon Saad, who scored in overtime against Nashville, leads the club with six goals, while his nine points are second only to Patrick Kane. A former Hart Trophy winner, Kane extended his goal-scoring streak to three games and point run to six (three goals, three assists) in a 4-2 setback against expansion Vegas on Tuesday. The 28-year-old Kane has excelled at home, where he has posted nine (three goals, six assists) of his 12 points.
1. Nashville scored a pair of power-play goals in its last game and has converted with the man advantage at least once in six of its nine contests this season.
2. Blackhawks G Corey Crawford owns a 16-9-1 record and 2.45 goals-against average in 26 career contests versus the Predators.
3. The Predators have been flat away from Music City, losing four of their five games (1-3-1).
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Predators 2