Predators vs Blackhawks Preview

By Thomas Gibbons

7 points out of the last Wild Card spot is a high mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible.

The Chicago Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators tonight at 7 pm at the United Center. The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-3 loss to Calgary on Monday. For the Predators, they traveled to Toronto on Monday and shutout the Maple Leafs 4-0.

The Blackhawks have been playing better hockey as of late. They finished the month of December strong, going 5-1 in the final two weeks, and while January has not been so kind to them, it’s hard not to notice the improvement. The Jeremy Colliton era did not get off to a great start, but the Blackhawks are adapting to Collion’s style of play and putting themselves in the possible playoff conversation.

Jokiharju is back

Rookie defensemen Henri Jokiharju will return to the lineup Wednesday night after being loaned to the Finnish men’s national junior team. Finland defeated the US to take home the gold.

There was arguments for and against Jokiharju playing in the World Juniors. First, his development in the NHL is the most important thing right now. Second, he is one of the Blackhawks best defensemen and taking him out of the lineup would create a huge hole. But, the Blackhawks decided to let him play in the World Juniors and he did pretty well. He assisted on the game winning goal to take home the gold and saw a big amount of ice time. The hope is upon his return to the Blackhawks is he has gained some confidence in his game and has gained more leadership experience being one of the oldest players for Finland.

Update on Corey Crawford

Well, there really is no update on Crawford. The media was told again today that the 34 year-old goaltender is still in concussion protocol.

Since suffering the concussion on December 16th vs. San Jose, we have not heard much at all on Crawford. Being since he is still in protocol, I do not expect him to be back on the ice anytime soon.

Colin Delia will start tonight

Colin Delia will get the nod in net tonight vs. Nashville. With Crawford’s continued absence, Delia has an opportunity to lock up the starting spot.

So far, I’m a big fan of Delia. I think he has what it takes to be a NHL goaltender and the Blackhawks should put him in their future plans. We do not know what is going to happen with Crawford, but he is 34 and his contract expires next season. And if he decided to call it quits tomorrow, who can blame him. Delia has a legit shot at becoming the No.1 and Blackhawks fans should be encouraged by his performance to date.

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