NBCSN Wednesday Night Preview

There are two games on the NBCSN schedule Wednesday as the Chicago Blackhawks are in Nashville to take on the Predators and the Vegas Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks in the late game.

Editor’s Note: The Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators face off Wednesday on NBCSN starting at 6:00 pm ET. Livestream all the action here.

NASHVILLE AT CHICAGO

The Blackhawks come into Wednesday night’s tilt with 47 points, good for sixth in the Central. They had a chance to move into a fourth-place tie with Nashville Monday but fell 5-2 to the Predators.

The Blackhawks are led by Patrick Kane, like they have been over the last 13 seasons. He and Jonathan Toews were the cogs in the Chicago offense but with Toews taking this season off due to an undisclosed issue, it’s Kane’s team this season. He has 15 goals and 42 assists, good for third overall in NHL scoring.

It has been a nice comeback season for Alex DeBrincat who has 23 goals in 46 games after potting only 18 goals in 70 contests last season. He is back to form as he was a 41-goal scorer in 2018-19 and one of the bright spots this season for Chicago.

The Blackhawks were thought to have goaltending problems heading into the season, but rookie Kevin Lankinen has provided the team with more than adequate netminding. He has carried them at times this season but has given up at least three goals in each of his last five games. Still, his 16-13-4 record with a 2.89 goals-against-average with a .911 save percentage has given him some Calder consideration this season.

Duncan Keith is still the veteran leader of the blueline but there is some good, young talent who are going to lead Chicago in the future including Adam Boqvist, Wyatt Kalynuk and Ian Mitchell. Unfortunately, Boqvist is currently in concussion protocol while Kalynuk left Monday’s game in the first period with an injury and did not return.

Kirby Dach is another future star up front but he was hampered before the start of the season, breaking his wrist at practice during the World Junior Championships. He finally returned last month and has a goal and five points in 12 games. He played 17:36 on Monday, including over eight minutes on special teams, split fairly evenly between the power play and penalty kill.

The Predators were thought to be dead in the water and definite sellers at the trade deadline but that was before they took off as they are currently 15-5-0 in their last 20 games to move into fourth place in the Central.

The Predators received good goaltending from Pekka Rinne to start the season but Juuse Saros has been outstanding since February 13 as he has given up more than two goals only twice (three against Dallas on April 1 and four versus Carolina on April 15), stopping 536-of 566 shots for a .947 save percentage. That is outstanding!

The Predators blueline headed by Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis is their strength. Josi was the NHL’s Norris Trophy winner last season as the best defenseman and when it was thought that Nashville would be sellers at the trade deadline, Ekholm was at the top of everyone’s list as the best player who could be available.

Offensively Nashville has been struggling, scoring only 121 goals in 47 games. Their top offensive threat is Filip Forsberg. The problem is that Forsberg has been out of action with an upper-body injury since March 25 and he still leads the Predators in points with 29.

Calle Jarnkrok leads the team with 12 goals while Mikael Granlund and Forsberg are one behind. Viktor Arvidsson also can score as he had 34 goals in only 58 games just two seasons ago and they are high on the injured Eeli Tolvanen but Nashville will rely on their defensive prowess and strong goaltending as they attempt to hold off Dallas and Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Probable Chicago Lineup

Alex DeBrincat-Kirby Dach-Adam Gaudette

Vinnie Hinostroza-Pius Suter-Patrick Kane

Dominik Kubalik-Philipp Kurashev-Dylan Strome

Brett Connolly-David Kampf-Ryan Carpenter

Calvin de Haan- Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy-Nikita Zadorov

Riley Stillman-Ian Mitchell

Kevin Lankinen

Malcolm Subban

Probable Nashville Lineup

Rocco Grimaldi-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson

Calle Jarnkrok-Mikael Granlund-Luke Kunin

Nick Cousins-Erik Haula-Matt Duchene

Yakov Trenin-Colton Sissons-Tanner Jeannot

Roman Josi-Matthew Benning

Mattias Ekholm-Ryan Ellis

Ben Harpur-Erik Gudbranson

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

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SAN JOSE AT VEGAS

Editor’s Note: The San Jose Sharks visit the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday on NBCSN starting at 9:30 pm ET. Livestream all the action here.

The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row, but did pick up their first point in the losing streak with a shootout loss to Vegas on Monday.

Evander Kane is the heart-and-soul of the team, leading the Sharks on the ice in goals and points with 17 and 36 respectively and is their toughest player as well, going into the corners and leading the team with 40 penalty minutes. He has been playing with Logan Couture on the top line with Noah Gregor moving up on Monday and scoring his fourth of the season. Gregor should remain there for Wednesday’s game.

Patrick Marleau, who broke Gordie Howe’s record Monday for most career games at 1,768, will hit another milestone as he will play in his 900th consecutive game, becoming only the fourth NHLer in history to do so. Only Doug Jarvis, Gary Unger and current Florida Panther Keith Yandle have hit the 900 mark.

It has been a tough season for both Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl who were expected to be the next wave of good players in San Jose.

The blueline is aging as Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson have seen better days, now that each are in their 30’s. The Sharks had hoped that the acquisition of Karlsson three years ago would put them over the top and win the Stanley Cup, but that did not happen and the Sharks have to re-build with a lack of enough good young players on the horizon.

Martin Jones has been good this season at times as he is 15-12-3 with a 3.19 goals-against-average and a .898 save percentage. His peripheral stats are not great but he was the first star of the week once this season and that’s better than anyone else on the Sharks.

The Golden Knights have won seven straight games to move atop the West Division standings, two up on the COVID-ridden Colorado Avalanche.

They have the best goalkeeping tandem in the NHL with Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was outstanding earlier in the season and Lehner has overcome an early season injury and is sharing the job with Fleury at this time.

Their best player is Mark Stone who has a team-leading 52 points and is one of, if not the best, two-way forwards in the NHL. His linemate Max Pacioretty has 22 goals in 42 games and has regained his scoring touch that he lost in his last season with Montreal in 2017-18.

Reilly Smith has been entrenched as a top-six forward but missed Monday’s contest with an undisclosed injury.

Don’t forget about players like Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Mattias Janmark who make up most of their middle-six forwards and are a major reason why the Golden Knights are so successful.

The blueline is really led by Shea Theodore although Alex Pietrangelo was the big-name off-season acquisition by Vegas. The signing forced Vegas to trade Nate Schmidt to Vancouver just to get under the salary cap and his play has been up-and-down this season as Pietrangelo has had to deal with COVID at the beginning of the season and a hand injury in March. Pietrangelo has only four goals and 14 points in 30 games while Theodore has six goals and 36 points in 42 contests.

Probable San Jose Lineup

Noah Gregor-Logan Couture-Evander Kane

Rudolfs Balcers-Tomas Hertl-Patrick Marleau

Timo Meier-Dylan Gambrell-Kevin Labanc

Ryan Donato-Joel Kellman-John Leonard

Mario Ferraro-Brent Burns

Nikolai Knyzhov-Erik Karlsson

Radim Simek-Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Martin Jones

Josef Korenar

Probable Vegas Lineup

Max Pacioretty-Chandler Stephenson-Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Alex Tuch

William Carrier-Nicolas Roy-Mattias Janmark

Tomas Jurco-Tomas Nosek-Dylan Coghlan

Alec Martinez -Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore

Nicolas Hague-Zach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury

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