Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Winnipeg closed out the Blackhawks' home slate for the 2016 calendar, and now the team will embark on a three-game road trip that culminates in the 2017 Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The first stop on their road trip, however, is Nashville, where they'll take on a Predators team that has experienced some ups and downs in December, posting a 4-5-3 record this month. They've dropped their last two, including a 3-2 overtime defeat to Minnesota on Tuesday, and sit in sixth place in the Central Division, two points out of a wild card spot in the West.
The two teams have faced off twice this season, with the Blackhawks dropping a 3-2 result in Nashville on Oct. 14 before returning home the next night to win 5-3.
Head Coach Joel Quenneville made just one switch to his forward lines on Thursday, sliding rookie Tyler Motte to the top line to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Ryan Hartman, while Vinnie Hinostroza replaces him on the fourth unit. But it's the defensive pairs that will likely be shaken up on Thursday after allowing 34 shots by the Jets.
"Probably one of our weakest areas tonight, whether it was defending or getting involved in the attack or making plays that keep possession," Quenneville said. "It wasn't a great night across the board."
Tuesday marked the fourth consecutive game and sixth time in the last seventh games that the team has allowed 30 or more shots on goal. Overall, the Blackhawks have averaged 31.1 shots allowed this season, compared to 29.1 shots for, a trend that Chicago certainly would like to reverse as the season approaches its halfway point.