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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Predators in Game 1 tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Predators in Game 1 tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Predators in Game 1 tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage starts with Pregame Live at 6 p.m. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. The importance of Game 1.

According to Elias, teams that win Game 1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 447-204 (68.7 percent). The Predators have never won a playoff series in franchise history when losing the first game (0-7) while the Blackhawks have gone on to win the series 11 of 12 times under Joel Quenneville when winning the first game. Getting off to a good start is crucial.

2. How will rookies handle playoff spotlight?

The Blackhawks will be starting four rookies in Game 1 with Ryan Hartman, John Hayden, Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz each getting their first taste of postseason action. These aren't just guys playing small roles; they've all had a big hand in the team's success this year. While some of them can lean on their big-game experience from college or at a different level, the Stanley Cup playoffs are clearly a different beast. It may take a little bit of time to shake the jitters and get comfortable.

3. Corey Crawford vs. Pekka Rinne.

Crawford and Rinne are both solid goaltenders, but there's a (big) difference between the two of them. When the playoffs roll around, one guy gets better and the other tends to go the other way. Crawford has a 2.37 goals against average and .918 save percentage for his career in the regular season, and a 2.26 GAA and .920 save percentage in the postseason. Rinne has a 2.38 GAA and .917 save percentage for his career in the regular season while his playoff numbers fall to 2.51 GAA and .912 save percentage. This could end up being the deciding factor in the series.

4. Health concerns in Nashville.

With Artem Anisimov (leg) cleared to play in Game 1, the Blackhawks are entering the playoffs as healthy as can be. The Predators, on the other hand, are dealing with a pair of injuries up front. Calle Jarnkrok (15 goals) and Colin Wilson (12) are two of the team's 12 players who have scored at least 10 goals this season, and both might be unavailable tonight due to lower-body injuries. We'll find out for sure at game time, but these would be tough losses. They'll need all hands on deck to take down the Blackhawks. 

5. Beware of shorthanded goals.

The Predators are an average team in the penalty kill department with an 80.9 percent success rate, but they're dangerous. They led the league with 12 shorthanded goals, with Viktor Arvidsson scoring five of them. Those are absolutely deflating for teams on the power play, and huge momentum-boosters for teams on the scoring end of them. The Blackhawks must be cognizant of that fact.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Soups on — Brian Campbell on his career with the Blackhawks and what’s next

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Soups on — Brian Campbell on his career with the Blackhawks and what’s next

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle talks to former Blackhawks Stanley Cup Champion, Brian Campbell.

They discuss his “One Last Shift” at the United Center this week, the rocky relationship he had with Joel Quenneville in year one and when he knew he was out of Q’s doghouse.

Campbell tells us the moment in 2010 when he knew the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. He also talks about the injury he received from Alex Ovechkin and his return to the line-up in the middle of the Nashville series.

Soupy tells us about his work with defenseman, such as Adam Boqvist, and how the Blackhawks tweaked defensive zone system has helped the team in recent weeks.

0:30 - What was “One more shift” like?

1:30 - What did your daughters Harper & Everly think about “One More Shift”?

3:00 - Back in 2008, how many teams did it come down to before you decided on Hawks?

4:45 - Taking less term in Chicago

6:00 - Rough start with Joel Quenneville

7:30 - When Campbell knew he was out of Q’s dog house

9:00 - Hossa’s debut signals Cup Contender

10:00 - Campbell injury from Ovechkin

11:00 - Return in Nashville series

12:30 - Soupy meets future wife

13:30 - Sweet Home Chicago

15:00 - Current role with Hawks

16:30 - Working with Adam Boqvist & Nicholas Beaudin

20:30 - Is Gustafsson back?

22:30 - Tweaked DZ coverage scheme

24:00 - “Soup and a Sandwich”

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

After stringing together four consecutive victories and picking up at least a point in eight of nine games, the Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back contests in regulation for the first time since Oct. 24-26. But there's no panic in the locker room.

The Blackhawks are encouraged with their overall progression since the calendar flipped to November and won't let consecutive losses convince themselves they're taking steps backwards after making up ground over the last several weeks.

"I don't think we've lost the momentum," Jonathan Toews said following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. "I think we know what we can do, we just got to get our legs going and get four lines rolling again. Be back on the road this weekend, so back to that same mentality of playing simple hockey. Last couple road games we had four lines contributing and a lot of pucks going in, so try and get back to that same style."

The Blackhawks didn't like the way they played in the first two periods against Carolina on Tuesday, and rightfully so. They were outplayed in every facet, but threw the kitchen sink at the Hurricanes in the third period and made it close, which showed yet again that they're never out of a game when they play an up-tempo style of hockey.

The Blackhawks didn't necessarily come out flat on Thursday against Tampa Bay, but they also didn't capitalize on their chances until the third period and made it difficult on themselves to build a lead early in the game. They outshot the Lightning 12-4 in the final frame after being outshot 23-16 in the first two periods, but the Lightning scored three times in the final 10:16 while the Blackhawks scored only twice.

"We did some good things tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously would have been nice to get some points here in the last two games, but yeah, we gotta keep playing the way we won all those games and went on the nice stretch with. Stay with it. We know the recipe for success and keep building."

Whether they're at their best or not, the Blackhawks recognize how important it is to pick up points and want to make sure they're doing everything they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race, especially with five straight divisional games on the horizon.

"Obviously, these two last home games weren't our best games," Dylan Strome said. "We had a push in each game but I don't think it was good enough. Got to find a way to battle for 60 minutes. Four straight divisional games coming up so important time in the standings and we got some time between games. It's time to find a way to pick up some points in the division here."

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