DENVER — The Blackhawks’ first-round course is set: they are Nashville bound.
The Blackhawks took third place in the Central Division and will face the Predators when the NHL postseason begins next week. Game dates and times will be announced either later Saturday night or early Sunday.
There was some question entering Saturday morning where the Blackhawks could play their first-round series but that was answered by the St. Louis Blues during the afternoon. The Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2, assuring the Blackhawks third in the division.
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It’s been a while since the Blackhawks have seen the Predators; their last regular-season game was Dec. 29 in Chicago. The Predators were pretty consistent this season outside of a 2-8-0 stretch in late February/early March.
Despite the large gap between meetings, the two teams are certainly familiar with each other so there won’t be many surprises. Still, this isn’t the same Predators team that has struggled in past postseasons. Pekka Rinne is still great in goal but now Nashville has offense to help him out.
“We’ve seen them enough every year in the past years too to know … this year with their coaching change and their different style and the season they had offensively, being the top of our division for a long time it could be different,” Jonathan Toews said. “It could be surprising in some ways but at the end of the day we know what they do well and what they don’t. We’ll try to capitalize on that.”