Photo: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Blackhawks play Nashville tonight, and it’s my job to tell you about what we can expect during the game. So here’s the obligatory paragraph about the Predators before we talk about the Blackhawks’ 8-game losing streak.

Nashville is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, most recently losing in a shootout to Boston. They’ve always been a defense-first team, but this year they are doing well in both categories — just outside the top-10 in both goals-for and goals-against. They can kill you from many, many angles: 9 players have 11+ goals, 9 players have 29+ points. Goaltender Pekka Rinne continues to shine, his .924 save percentage ranks among the league’s top-10. Neither Ryan Suter nor Shea Weber has been traded, and likely won’t be before the puck drops this evening. So that’s bad for us.

Will that work? Okay. On to business.

What are the Blackhawks doing about this disastrous 8-game losing streak? Well, right now, nothing.

In an interview with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman gave a full-throated endorsement of Head Coach Joel Quenneville, as well as goaltenders Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. The upshot was, Q isn’t going to be fired, and neither Craw nor Rayzer are going anywhere. Translation: everybody can stop talking about he or Quenneville having to fix this mess: it’s a player problem, they better get it in gear. And by the way, we’re not bring Nikolai Khabibulin back.

Which then begs the question: what are the PLAYERS doing about this losing streak? We heard a lot of the cliche lines about playing as a team, not getting the bounces, just play through it, learning through adversity and what-not from the usual cast of characters after Saturday’s shutout loss to the Coyotes. But let’s face it: talk is cheap, fellas. I know when you get a microphone stuck in your face you need to say something. But we’re more interested in seeing you DO something to show us you’re serious about turning this around. So far, the talk has ended when you leave the dressing room, and hasn’t translated into the kind of effort needed to win hockey games.

There was a bit of good news today however, if only in the form of Coach QStache reverting to what has worked in the past, instead of the constant game of musical wingers we are used to seeing. Lines at practice on Monday were as follows: Patrick Sharp moving up to the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (FINALLY!); Marcus Kruger centering Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa; Dave Bolland between Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg; and Jamal Mayers down the middle for Andrew Shaw and Brendan Morrison.

Beyond the first line, I don’t think Brunette has the speed to keep up with Kruger and Hossa, though he might provide some net presence. I would prefer to see Stalberg in that slot, see how the 3 Europeans do when skating together. It also didn’t take long for Coach Q to see that Stan’s attempted cheap-ass solution to the second-line center problem is better suited with the grunts on the fourth line.

Other notes from practice: Niklas Hjalmarsson is experiencing “concussion-like symptoms,” which is supposed to mean he can’t play for a full week. He was not at practice today. Neither was defenseman Duncan Keith, though that was called a “maintenance day” for him. No reason to suspect anything else, he hasn’t shown any signs of injury of late.

Administrative nonsense: Predators’ bruiser Brian McGrattan is listed as having an upper-body injury, though his status for tonight is not yet confirmed. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was fallout from this scuffle with the Blues’ Ryan Reeves. I think the linesmen were genuinely afraid to dive in on this one. For the Blackhawks, Niklas Hjalmarsson is out, and Steve Montador is still on Injured Reserve. Expect Rinne between the pipes for Nashville, Chicago will start Ray Emery.

Finally, a 7:00pm start after this latest string of 8pm-9pm-9:30pm nonsense. The game will be shown on Comcast SportsNet; WGN AM-720 has your radio broadcast; XM listeners will find the game on channel 204; and Sirius Premiere subscribers can tune in on channel 218;

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The Predators try like crazy to convince anyone who asks that Nashville is a “good hockey town.” But when the rubber hits the road, they have to feature T & A bait like this on the front page of their web site to try to increase traffic. Sorry, the only things Nashvillians (?) care about are music and NASCAR. Twas always thus, and always thus will be.

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