The St. Louis Blues remain in the midst of some very important divisional games. Now, they prepare to face the new division leaders and an old foe.
The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators haven’t been what you would call rivals for an insanely long period of time. The two have quickly ratcheted up the heat, however. Playing in the playoffs will do that to you.
Chicago remains either team’s main rival, but with the Blackhawks looking like they will actually miss the playoffs, this matchup might be the main rivalry this year.
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These two teams almost always played each other close in the past. No matter who had the edge in talent or the standings, it seemed like the result was always decided by a goal or went into overtime.
The Predators have become the latest team Blues fans envy. While the Predators did draft well, they made some significant trades and dipped into free agency. The Blues have not been on their level in those terms, so the cry is that Nashville is better than St. Louis in front office and on the ice.
That is extremely debatable, but that is an argument for another day. You cannot argue the results, as the Predators made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
As far as this season, like last year, the teams have headed in opposite directions. The Blues got off to a hot start, only to crash back to Earth. Nashville had a slower start than they would have liked, but stayed the course and are atop the division as we speak.
The Blues need this one, badly. Nashville is unlikely to be generous and just allow St. Louis the win though.
Know Thy Enemy
The Predators, as mentioned, come in as the first place team in the division with a record of 33-12-9 for 75 points. The scary, and odd, thing about that is they still have the fewest games played of anyone in the Central.
Nashville still has four games in hand on St. Louis and two games in hand on Winnipeg. It begs the question of when their schedule will tighten up and they’ll play those games.
The Predators defense/goaltending has been amazing, as usual. They’ve allowed the second fewest total goals in the conference and the third fewest overall.
Nashville has struggled to get things done in regulation lately. They are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games. Their last win, over Montreal, came in a shootout. In fact, they are tied with Columbus for the most shootout games in the league. Points are points, but you wonder if that extra effort will catch up to them eventually.
The Preds have dominated the Blues so far this season. Nashville won both contests earlier this year by an average score of 5-2.
The Predators continue to make big moves. They are going to re-add Mike Fisher to the lineup – not tonight – as he is coming out of retirement. They are also linked to some big names in the trade market.
The Blues will have to be on their toes tonight. Nashville is 18-5-3 on home ice, though the Blues beat Winnipeg at home and they had a similar home record, so it is not impossible.
In the shoulder shrug portion of the news, the Blues recalled Oskar Sundqvist from his conditioning assignment in San Antonio. Whether in the roster or not, he won’t be a factor, but hopefully it was good for him. He did score two goals and four assists with the Rampage.
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St. Louis keeps going back and forth between seven and six wins in their last 10 since they cannot get on a roll either way. They are currently 6-4-0 in their last 10.
When you view the game, the Pittsburgh loss was not so terrible. If the Blues don’t make some horrible turnovers and some bounces go their way, they have a chance to win. What was annoying was the fan reaction, especially in the goaltender department. That might be a lost cause though.
The Blues might have lost their last two against Nashville, but both were at home. Surprisingly, the Blues have done reasonably well on the road against the Predators.
The Blues are 10-6-1 in their last 17 trips down there. They have points in 11 straight games as well. The downside is that the last time they actually won there was February of 2016.
We are at the point where complaining about lineups is silly. The Blues only have so many people to choose from. Tage Thompson is hurt, so their options are even more limited.
That said, I’m not crazy about that third line combination. However, it is understandable that is what available given the comfort level the other two lines seem to have with each other.
Where To Watch
Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Tennessee
Fox Sports Go, NHL.tv (subscriber fee)
KMOX, KMOX.com, Blues app
The game is scheduled to start at 7 pm Central Time.
I hate making predictions against Nashville. There are so many different things that usually happen that make it hard. Will Pekka Rinne play out of his mind, will the Blues be able to score, can either team score or will it be a shootout?
All things are possible in these games. That being said, the Blues have to know they need a big performance.
Nashville is coming off a feel-good win and used up some energy in the tank. The Blues are coming off a loss and need a bounce back.
I’ll tentatively say the Blues win 3-2. The way things have gone for the Predators, it’ll be in overtime and only provide a one point swing either way.