Blackhawks-Preds ready for postseason: ‘Everybody wants to win Game 1'

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Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette put it as succinctly as possible on Thursday morning.

"Everybody wants to win Game 1. They're saying the same thing," Laviolette said of the Blackhawks. "It's a lead, it's a game, it's one of four. They're all important, but to get the first one is always important."

And so it begins.

You know the starting goaltenders, you know the previous history with these two, and in a few hours (maybe longer) we’ll know the winner of Game 1 of the Blackhawks-Predators' first-round series. Everything is that much more critical in a seven-game series but claiming that first one is definitely important. Per Elias, teams that win Game 1 in a Stanley Cup playoffs series hold have gone on to win the series 68.7 percent of the time (447-204).

The NHL postseason opened on Wednesday with four of the five road teams winning Game 1.

"We have to go out there and play our game and get off to a good start. That's the mindset we want to take in to the first game," Brent Seabrook said. "With the parity [with seeds] one through eight, everyone has a chance to win. We have to be ready to go from the drop of the puck and play our game."

For the Blackhawks, it's the start of what they hope is their fourth Stanley Cup run since 2010. For the Predators, who come in with more depth this season, it's the chance to upend the Blackhawks after being so close in 2010 and 2015.

"[In] 2015 it was a great series that could've gone either way. We ended up losing a couple of overtime games and they ended up going all the way and winning the Cup. There were some great memories, too," said Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. "It's a great team and a great challenge for us. There have been a lot of days in between [practices], nice to get out there and start playing."

The Blackhawks come into the first round relatively healthy. Artem Anisimov is coming off a month-long absence with a left-leg injury, and coach Joel Quenneville said the team will monitor how he does in Game 1. The Predators could be missing Colin Wilson (lower body), who had five goals in that 2015 series.

The talk is just about over, folks. It's time to play. Every game is important but none ranks higher than that first one.

BLACKHAWKS VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS

7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live Stream: CSNChicago.com NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body).

Nashville Predators

Forward lines (projected/Predators had optional skate)

Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala-Mike Fisher-James Neal

Pontus Aberg-Calle Jarnkrok-Craig Smith

Cody McLeod-Colton Sissons-Austin Watson

Defensive Pairs

Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin-Anthony Bitetto

Goaltender

Pekka Rinne

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Yannick Weber (upper body), Colin Wilson (lower body).

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