Chicago is the darling of the West.
Pekka Rinne has struggled since the All-Star break, but his presence between the pipes is nothing to laugh at. Nashville’s bottom-six lacks depth and offensive capabilities, but their stout defense behind P.K. Subban and Roman Josi and young star orwards Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg pose a major threat to Chicago.
Luckily for the Hawks, rugged winger Artem Anisimov returns to the lineup Thursday for the Hawks. Chicago has new-found defensive depth by re-signing Brian Campbell. Chicago brings a defensive punch themselves, and they play behind a great forward group.
Series Prediction: Chicago in 6
The Hawks have more forwards that can elevate their games and an edge in goaltending behind Corey Crawford. I expect a close, tough series, but Chicago is on a mission and has home-ice advantage.