Jaroslav Halak is set to start in net tonight against the Nashville Predators. Everyone remembers what happened on Tuesday when Halak started in Nashville and was pulled after letting 3 goals in, but Halak is a professional and should be ready for the challenge tonight.
Goaltender Brian Elliott was incredible in Nashville and showed one of his greatest strengths for the St. Louis Blues. Unlike many St. Louis fans, I think Elliott is a proven number 2 goalie and not a starter. I don’t mean this in any sort of negative way, but Elliott is incredible in relief positions, but not so great when called upon night after night. In any sign of trouble Elliott can enter a game completely ready, which is not an easy task for a goaltender to do.
Jaroslav Halak is like many of the top goalies in the league. If he has an off night, he gets over it, which is something he was not the best at before Coach Ken Hitchcock came to town. Last season taught us that Halak had learned how to master the mental game of the NHL and he will be ready tonight, bringing the world class style of play he has continued to bring. In any sign of trouble, Halak knows that he can lean on Elliott and vice versa, which gives the St. Louis Blues a huge advantage.
Players to Watch Tonight
- Vladimir Tarasenko: Tarasenko was great in Nashville, but the Predators will know what to expect from the rookie sensation tonight. Expect there to be a lot more pressure on the 21 year old and look for him to make the most of the chances he is given. I think tonight we will see the ability that Tarasenko has to move the puck to teammates. Also look for him to excel if given the opportunity on the powerplay. Chris Stewart and Vladimir Tarasenko have made the most out of being on the ice at the same time during the powerplay and the unlikely duo will be able to strike if Nashville makes too many mistakes.
- David Perron: While the start of the season has seen David Perron take a number of penalties in the offensive zone, it is most likely attributed to the lack of play during the NHL lockout. In Chicago Perron looked to be getting some of his form back and he has the potential to be a point-per-game player. Soon enough David Perron will be putting the puck in the back of the net. As of right now, T.J. Oshie has been the star of the top line, putting up some impressive numbers. It looks like David Backes is a little off his game, but that will not last very long. Backes and Oshie will soon be putting up just as respectable of numbers and be a vital part of the Blues success. The St. Louis Blues offense is one that still looks to score by committee and the addition of Tarasenko does not mean that the other players are not going to push hard to the net.
- Wade Redden: In what should be his first game as a St. Louis Blue, Wade Redden will need to have a big night. Being the left handed partner the Blues needed for Alex Pietrangelo is a lot to ask of a player who has spent the last two seasons in the AHL. Coach Ken Hitchcock believes that Redden is a player who was burdened by the pressure of a big NHL contract and that there is still a lot of good play left in him. Let’s hope Hitch is right and this is going to be the year Redden returns to form. If that is the case, the Blues will be adding a huge amount of depth to their defensive core that is one of the best in the league. Watch him to be a bit shaky tonight, but he should have something to prove to himself, St. Louis, and the rest of the NHL. Hockey players are very competitive people and you know Redden would love to show the New York Rangers what they are missing.
For more about tonight’s game, check out Jason Kirk’s article over at Pred Lines. It has a lot of good insight about what Nashville will need to do tonight to get past the St. Louis Blues as well as who to watch on the Nashville side of things.
That is all for now Blues fans, LET’S GO BLUES!