As they start the unofficial second half of the season Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks in Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators boast a 29-11-7 record. They're on pace for the best season in franchise history and have lost just four times in regulation at home.
Yet they aren't even in first place in the Central Division, thanks to Winnipeg's emergence. In fact, one bad week will bring them into the wild-card race. Simply put, there is no margin for error, even for an elite team like Nashville.
Nashville appears on paper to hold the cards in terms of winning the division. It has three games in hand on Winnipeg and Dallas, plus four on St. Louis, and the Predators have flashed superior depth throughout the season.
Case in point: Their 6-0-2 stretch in the last eight games, all without left winger Filip Forsberg, tied for the team lead in goals with 15. No. 1 center Ryan Johansen has developed a mysterious allergy to shooting the puck with only five markers in 44 games on a mere 66 shots, yet Nashville continues to win.
The major reason is an airtight defense. The Predators have allowed the second-fewest goals in the league despite being outshot on average. They suppress quality scoring chances, rarely allowing goalies Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros to get screened.
Defenseman P.K. Subban, who was inconsistent at times last season due to injuries, is playing at a Norris Trophy level this season. Not only does he lead the team in scoring with 12 goals and 25 assists in 47 games, Subban is also playing some of the best defense of his career.
One sequence from Sunday's All-Star Game, in which he used positioning and quickness to take Johnny Gaudreau out of a play on which it appeared he might have a Grade A chance, symbolized Subban's season perfectly.
This is also big for Chicago (23-19-7), which is in an unfamiliar position -- last place in the division. The Blackhawks are four points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, reflecting a team going through a transition phase.
Chicago did play one of its best games of the season just before the All-Star break, routing Detroit 5-1 Thursday night in the Motor City behind a hat trick from rookie Alex DeBrincat. It was a breakout performance for a team that struggled for offense in prior games.
Goals might not come as easily against Rinne (24-8-3, 2.35, .927), who in his last seven games against the Blackhawks has allowed just eight markers. That includes last April's 4-0 sweep in the conference quarterfinals that started Nashville's unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Anton Forsberg (4-7-3, 3.00, .910) or Jeff Glass (3-3-2, 3.15, .910) could start in net for the Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators VDB Sport Betting Odds and Predictions
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators Betting Odds
|Chicago Blackhawks||+1½ (-210)||+150||6 (+105)o|
|Nashville Predators||-1½ (+175)||-170||6 (-125)u|
Vegas Daily Betting Free Prediction: Predators 3, Blackhawks 2
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators VDB Sport Betting Matchup Report
Betting Odds Trends
|Chicago is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 games|
|Chicago is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Chicago's last 7 games|
|Chicago is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road|
|Chicago is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games on the road|
|The total has gone OVER in 5 of Chicago's last 5 games on the road|
|Chicago is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Nashville|
|Chicago is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing Nashville|
|Chicago is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Nashville|
|Chicago is 3-7 SU in its last 10 games when playing on the road against Nashville|
|Nashville is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games|
|Nashville is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Nashville's last 10 games|
|Nashville is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games at home|
|Nashville is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games at home|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Nashville's last 7 games at home|
|Nashville is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Chicago|
|Nashville is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Chicago|
|Nashville is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 games when playing at home against Chicago|
|Nashville is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games when playing at home against Chicago|
|Corey Crawford||G||Out indefinitely - Concussion - 1/22/18||Crawford has been placed on injured reserve as he is experiencing post-concussion symptoms and a timeline for his recovery has yet to be established.|
|Michal Rozsival||D||Out indefinitely - Concussion - 10/2/17||Rozsival is recovering from concussion-like symptoms and is on long-term injured reserve.|
|Marian Hossa||RW||out for season - Illness - 10/4/17||Hossa is on the long-term injured reserve and will miss the 2017-18 season due to the severe side effects of medication for treatment of a skin disorder.|
|Filip Forsberg||LW||Ques Tues - Upper Body - 1/29/18||Forsberg has landed on injured reserve with an upper-body ailment and it is undetermined if he will be activated in time for Tuesday's game against the Blackhawks.|
|11/28/17||NAS 3 - CHI 2||-1.5, 183/6||CHI/U|
|10/27/17||CHI 1 - NAS 2||-1.5, 231/5.5||NAS/U|
|10/14/17||CHI 2 - NAS 1 (OT)||-1.5, 210/5.5||NAS/U|
|4/20/17||NAS 4 - CHI 1||-1.5, 252/5||NAS/P|
|4/17/17||NAS 3 - CHI 2 (OT)||-1.5, 241/5||CHI/P|
|4/15/17||CHI 0 - NAS 5||-1.5, 192/5||NAS/P|
|4/13/17||CHI 0 - NAS 1||-1.5, 183/5.5||NAS/U|
|3/4/17||NAS 3 - CHI 5||-1.5, 205/5.5||CHI/O|
|1/8/17||CHI 5 - NAS 2||-1.5, 205/5||CHI/O|
|12/29/16||NAS 2 - CHI 3||-1.5, 231/5||CHI/P|
|Date||vs||Last Meeting||Line||ATS||Where||Last Meeting|
|1/30/18||@ NAS||L 2-3||1.5,-204/6||W/U||NAS||11/28/17|
|2/1/18||@ VAN||L 2-5||-1.5,235/5.5||L/O||VAN||12/28/17|
|2/3/18||@ CAL||L 3-4 (OT)||1.5,-235/6||W/O||CAL||12/31/17|
|2/6/18||CAL||L 3-4 (OT)||1.5,-235/6||W/O||CAL||12/31/17|
|1/25/18||@ DET||W 5-1||1.5,-285/5.5||W/O||28||24||0/2||1/1|
|1/24/18||TOR||L 2-3 (OT)||-1.5,274/6||L/U||36||36||2/4||1/4|
|1/9/18||@ OTT||W 8-2||-1.5,260/6||W/O||43||27||4/6||0/4|
|Date||vs||Last Meeting||Line||ATS||Where||Last Meeting|
|2/7/18||@ TOR||L 1-3||-1.5,222/5.5||L/U||NAS||3/30/17|
|2/5/18||@ NYI||L 2-6||-1.5,226/5.5||L/O||NAS||10/28/17|
|1/25/18||@ NJ||W 3-0||-1.5,222/5.5||W/U||27||27||0/2||0/2|
|1/23/18||TB||L 3-4 (OT)||-1.5,210/5.5||L/O||33||31||2/3||0/2|
|1/18/18||ARI||W 3-2 (SO)||-1.5,144/5.5||L/U||39||29||0/3||0/2|
|1/6/18||@ LA||W 4-3||1.5,-289/5.5||W/O||20||29||1/5||1/4|
|1/4/18||@ ARI||L 2-3 (OT)||-1.5,194/5.5||L/U||39||25||0/2||1/2|
|1/2/18||@ VEG||L 0-3||1.5,-244/6||P/U||29||31||0/2||1/1|