Blackhawks vs Predators: Center(s) of Attention

Center depth has been a critical element for the Blackhawks over the last decade of success, and as they look to face the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs for the third time, that position will be a focus once again.

Chicago expects to have Artem Anisimov back from injury to open the postseason. He last appeared in a game in Montreal on March 14. Anisimov finished the season with career highs in goals (22) and points (45).

For the Preds, Mike Fisher appeared in only 72 games and averaged 16:37 on ice per game. That’s Fisher’s lowest average ice time total for a regular season since 2002-03 when he was in Ottawa.

Mike Fisher,  Ryan Johansen and Mike Ribeiro were the primary centers for Nashville against Chicago during the regular season. But on February 4, the Preds traded a fourth round pick to New Jersey to acquire center Vernon Fiddler.

The point production from the center position favored the Predators, especially from their top two centers.

  • Jonathan Toews – 5 games, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points
  • Artem Anisimov – 5 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points
  • Marcus Kruger – 4 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point
  • Tanner Kero – 3 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point

  • Ryan Johansen – 5 games, 0 goals, 7 assists, 7 points 
  • Mike Fisher – 5 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
  • Mike Ribeiro – 4 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point
  • Vernon Fiddler – 3 games, 0 points

It is worth noting that Johansen and Fisher were the top two point producers fro the Preds against Chicago this season. Patrick Kane (nine points) and Richard Panik (seven) led the Blackhawks, who also received six points from Duncan Keith and five from Brent Seabrook.

Against Nashville, three Blackhawks centers won more than half of their faceoffs this season.

  • Jonathan Toews – 5 games, 61 FOW, 54 FOL = 53.04%
  • Artem Anisimov – 5 games, 21 FOW, 37 FOL = 36.2%
  • Marcus Kruger – 4 games, 25 FOW, 20 FOL = 55.6%
  • Tanner Kero – 3 games, 14 FOW, 12 FOL = 53.9%

However, Nashville didn’t perform poorly at the dot. Here are their faceoff numbers against the Hawks this year:

  • Ryan Johansen – 5 games, 35 FOW, 30 FOL = 53.9% 
  • Mike Fisher – 5 games, 51 FOW, 38 FOL = 57.3%
  • Mike Ribeiro – 4 games, 17 FOW, 15 FOL = 53.1%
  • Vernon Fiddler – 3 games, 19 FOW, 13 FOL = 59.4%<
    1 game with Nashville, 2 games with New Jersey

On March 4, the last time Chicago played Nashville, Toews spent the most ice time against Calle Jarnkrok (12:07) and Colin Wilson (10:45). On that night Fisher spent 66 seconds against Toews. Anisimov spent the majority of his night against Johansen (6:55). Fisher spent 3:39 against Anisimov.

The last two times the Blackhawks faced the Preds in the first round of the playoffs, Chicago went on to win the Stanley Cup. While this is a new Nashville team, winning down the middle will continue to be critical for the Hawks to advance.

16 thoughts on “Blackhawks vs Predators: Center(s) of Attention

  1. I think 2013 David “The Rat” Bolland might be reincarnated into 2017 Richard Panik. Panik is a guy who can agitate, draw stupid penalties, and score a big power play goal. The question is, will he shine when the playoff pressure increases?

  2. I think Ribiero was sent down to their AHL team and hasn’t played with the Preds in a couple months – is he supposed to be back for the playoffs?

  3. I felt last year that the Hawks big names didn’t deliver in the first round and contributed to the Hawks early exit. If the guys making the big bucks play like their paycheck and we get timely contributions from the new guys, the Hawks are going to be really tough to beat. The last 4 games were really tough to watch, it will be exciting to see the Hawks back at full strength again. Really looking forward to some playoff Hockey!

  4. Forward depth makes or breaks the series. In particular, if the Toews line produces, it’s hard to see Nashville winning. But if we’re a one-line team again, it’s hard to see the Hawks advance.

    Hawks in 7.

  5. Really? Talk about shameless self promotion. What Nashville fan would welcome a Hawks fan into their home? So much for keeping the red out huh?

  6. Clever marketing in my book. Doesn’t mean he hates the Preds. I’d do the same thing if I was trying to make a buck.

  7. Well the fun starts soon-
    The Hawks are a battle tested team with future Hall of Famers who realize they aren’t getting any younger. I like the mix of veterans and youth. We have two good goalies, one very underrated.
    It should/could be Hawks-Capitals in the final but the chances of both making it aren’t great.
    The Hawks have some holes, and any good team can be an injury away from falling out of contention. Three Cups in this era is utterly amazing, and I’m grateful but it doesn’t mean I won’t be a wreck.
    The Predators are good but I think Hawks in 6.

  8. Hawks go 1 – 1 at home then I think they will win. Team will draw a lot of energy from the thousands of Hawk fans in Nashville

  9. I just found a beautiful Canadian quarter commemorating the 125 th year of the Stanley Cup . This could be the good luck charm needed to push us on to another Championship .

  10. Kenny Albert with the game 1 play by play. I can not stand Kenny Albert called games. Strader is back for the playoffs. He’s fantastic and I wish him all the best. I hope he’s back on his own accord and not because NBC needed him back

  11. D-Cat two goals in a 3 to 1 win. It would be nice to see Erie and Saint John in the Memorial Cup.
    The Sea Dogs look tough.

  12. Yes that would be awesome Noonan. Sea Dogs won again last night 7-3 and another 59-19 sots in favour of the Sea Dogs. Ottawa is going to be very happy with Chabot and Tampa with Mathieu Joseph.

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