Preds coming up short at every turn
Nashville wants the calendar to flip to 2017 as quickly as possible. But can Peter Laviolette’s bunch hold its own, at the very least, against Central Division rival Chicago tonight?
The two teams collide in the Music City at 8 p.m. ET. Somewhat surprisingly, online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Predators odds of -125 to handle their business at home. Conversely, the Blackhawks enter Bridgestone Arena as +105 underdogs.
After going 9-3-2 in November, Nashville is enduring a 4-5-3 December. Most recently, the squad suffered a 3-2 loss to Minnesota. Things probably won’t get much easier anytime soon, either, considering the Preds (15-13-16) are preparing to embark on a lengthy road trip through western Canada.
Mired in a three-game losing streak, Chicago’s (22-10-5) slightly salty at the moment, too. Regardless of the league’s protracted holiday break, Joel Quenneville’s troops have potted just five goals since Dec. 20. Veteran forward Marian Hossa will also miss this evening’s tilt due to an upper-body injury.
On a brighter note, however, Artem Anisimov’s back in the lineup following a brief absence. The USSR native’s 15 markers and 28 points both rank third on the club. Expect Anisimov & Co. to right the ship vs. the Predators, though the hosts should solve Corey Crawford once or twice as well.
THURSDAY NHL FREE PICK: BLACKHAWKS/PREDATORS OVER 5 GOALS