ST. LOUIS BLUES
vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
February 5th, 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Midwest
St. Louis leads season series, 2-0
The St. Louis Blues are entering tonight’s matchup after a aggravating loss in Detroit which saw the team’s captain ejected from the game for a crime he did not commit. The Wings ended the Blues winning streak so the clock has been reset to zero as the Nashville Predators come to town. Wade Redden will be playing in his 1,000th NHL game tonight and will hope to help the Blues bring home a win. The Predators, on the other hand, are coming into tonight’s game with their heads held high as they slowly make their climb up the Central Division standings thanks to strong play from Pekka Rinne.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
(6-2-0, 2nd in Central)
The St. Louis Blues left Joe Louis Arena on Friday with a temper. After having fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead 3-2 in the game a slew of bad calls, culminating with a “hit to the head” call on Captain David Backes, caused the St. Louis Blues to fall to the Detroit Red Wings for the first time this season. To make the situation worse, goalie Jaroslav Halak took a puck to the face and pulled his groin in the first period on Friday and has been placed on the injured reserve for the rest of this week. Coach Ken Hithcock has said that he is day-to-day but he is not willing to rush Halak back into the lineup. Brian Elliott will get the start tonight in between the pipes for the St. Louis Blues, and why not as he has been able to put up some of his best numbers against the Predators this season.
Vladimir Tarasenko is sure to be one of the players to watch in every St. Louis Blues game this season, but tonight there is even more reason to watch #91 on the ice. In the first two games against the Nashville Predators, Tarasenko has managed to put the puck past Pekka Rinne. While in the past the St. Louis Blues had a lot of trouble finding ways to score against the Preds, this season an offense led by Tarasenko has found ways to beat the veteran netminder.
Patrik Berglund is off to one of the hottest starts of his career. Playing alongside of Chris Stewart, Berglund has continually found a way to light the lamp and will be looking to add to his total tonight. With Stewart on the same line, look for the pair to team up and get on the board tonight at Scottrade.
Others to watch
Brian Elliott will be in net tonight for the Blues with Halak on the IR. Elliott has played some of his best hockey against the Nashville Predators and will be looking to add to his win column tonight. The pressure is on as Elliott will appear in his third straight game and the spotlight is on. Rookie Jake Allen will be his backup, but don’t expect Hithcock to make the call to the bench unless Elliott has one of the worst nights of his career.
(3-2-3, 4th in Central)
The Nashville Predators enter Scottrade tonight fresh off back to back victories against the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. On Thursday the Preds snapped a three-game losing streak by taking the Kings in a shootout and followed with another shootout win to give the Sharks their first loss of the season just 48 hours later.
Pekka Rinne is by far the best player on this Nashville squad and deserves the amount of praise he has earned the past few seasons. Since the Predators loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last Monday, Rinne has stopped 56 straight shots at even strength and only been beaten on the penalty kill. The Preds defense may have been shaky to start the season, but they are beginning to click on all cylinders.
Others to watch
Shea Weber. Do I really need to say anything else? While there are players on the Predators lineup that surely deserve their fair amount of attention, Weber is the guys that you need to watch every time you take the ice against the Nashville Predators. His presence on the ice is always known and he is a difference maker. The thing with Weber this season is that he has failed to net a single point. Watch for Weber to go the extra mile to get his first point of the season tonight in St. Louis.
While Sergei Kostitsyn could manage to net one past Elliott, he is not a major threat to the St. Louis Blues. The Preds offense has not been there this season and is most of the reason why the team has struggled to date. Kostitsyn could try to add to his totals tonight, but don’t expect a huge effect on the Blues.
The St. Louis Blues are putting up some of the largest points totals they have in years, but the Nashville Predators are allowing some of the fewest. Expect a closer contest than the last time the two teams met and don’t be surprised if we see overtime and a shootout tonight. It is going to be a hard fought battle as one would expect between two division rivals, but will be an important night for the Predators as Tuesday’s matchup will mark the last chance for the Predators to show they have what it takes to beat the St. Louis Blues until April 9th.
LET’S GO BLUES!