Predators goalie Pekka Rinne excited to face Chicago again

Behind a sensational 100-point season from phenom Connor McDavid and elite-level goaltending from Cam Talbot, the Oilers racked up 103 points to finish second in the competitive Pacific Division - four points clear of the Sharks, who were by far the worst over play in the league (22-37-23 O/U). Marian Hossa scored the game-winner, and instead of being up 3-2 heading back to Nashville, the Predators were down 3-2. They will handle the Predators relatively easily in the first round, but then will meet their fate against the Wild in the conference semifinals. Just looking back playing the Olympics last time in Russian Federation, I thought that was an experience of a lifetime.

The Pacific division is like the wild west this year, but one thing we know for sure is that the Ducks will be bounced early as they always are. You use that to your advantage.

The Chicago Blackhawks will get their playoff run underway on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, and the team released a video to hype fans up for another run at a Stanley Cup championship. The Predators limited Chicago's scoring chances - especially in close - and kept the Blackhawks' offense at bay throughout the night.

So the Predators take Game 1, 1-0.

Both teams comes into the playoffs on a low note, but the Blackhawks are the team that seem like they can bounce back quicker.

This postseason offers a chance at redemption for the 6-foot-5 native of Kempele, Finland.

Chicago has had Nashville's number all season. It's no longer possible for Alex Ovechkin to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, as he's tied for 13th in the National Hockey League in goals with 33 compared to Crosby's pole position with 44 with the season now over. He ranked 12th with a.918 save percentage, the same as Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

The second stanza brought a surge from the Hawks, outshooting Nashville by a 12-4 tally, but Rinne was stellar between the pipes for the Preds, keeping his club in front after 40 minutes. Rinne has gotten more rest this season, playing five fewer games than last season, thanks to the development of fellow Finn, Juuse Saros.

This time around, coaching changes in the past two seasons have resulted in bench bosses DeBoer (Sharks), Trotz (Capitals), Sullivan (Penguins), Todd McLellan (Oilers), Glen Gulutzan (Flames), Peter Laviolette (Predators), Bruce Boudreau (Wild), Mike Yeo (Blues), Bruce Cassidy (Bruins), John Tortorella (Blue Jackets), Mike Babcock (Leafs) and Guy Boucher (Sens) leading their teams to the post-season.

In the regular season vs. Nashville, Kane led the Hawks with nine points (3G, 6A). A better start could help avoid a similar fate. Toews started slow, but has picked up his game late in the season, as he finished with 21 goals and 37 assists.

Out to get 'em: The Hawks knocked the Predators out of the first round of the playoffs in 2010 and 2015 and solved goaltender Pekka Rinne in both series. "We defended hard, but I think we're going to have to attack the game more and create more chances". So we knew it was going to be a big challenge. "It's a big series for us". The Rags still have major defensive deficiencies which finds them spending too much time in their own end. The Oilers rebuilding project is finally paying dividends as they get back to the playoffs for the first time since their thrilling run in 2006. And even while this isn't the best first round match-up for the team, I think the Blackhawks' depth and superior top-end talent wins out in the end. I'm excited, glad everything went well.

  • Julie Sanders