NASHVILLE -- The last time the Predators saw Chicago, the Blackhawks were riding high.
Nashville put an end to all of that. With consecutive wins against their Central Division rival Jan. 21 and Jan. 24 (Nashville actually had another game in between but Chicago did not), the Predators sent the Blackhawks into what was become their current eight-game winless streak.
During that span, Chicago has plummeted from having the most points in the League to sixth in the Western Conference and fourth in the division. Nashville can pad its lead on Chicago to seven points with a regulation victory today.
All of that has put some heat on Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who guided the team to the Stanley Cup in 2010. However, at least one member of the coaching fraternity has Quenneville's back.
"Joel's an outstanding coach," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "I'll say this: When you win, us coaches get too much credit, and when you lose, we get too much blame, and it's somewhere in between. He's got a wealth of knowledge. He's won Stanley Cups, he's been to the finals, he's done all that. … I don't know what criticism they're giving him, but he's one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League. They're just going through a dry patch."
Trotz also said he understands what the Blackhawks are going through.
"When things aren't going your way, everything's hard," Trotz said. "And you have to almost to accept that it's going to be hard and get enthused about the battle and the hardship you're going through. We've had our struggles in the past, but you become a stronger team through the battles …
"But it's not easy coming out of it. You've got to really want it."