The 34-year-old defenseman has played more games at Scottrade Center than any other NHL player (395), but tonight will be the first time he plays in a color other than Blue.
“It’s a little different coming down the ramp, through the parking garage and stopping in the visitors room instead of the home dressing room,” Jackman said after the morning skate today. “I wasn’t sure how fun that would be, but I’m looking forward to tonight. I’ve got a lot of fond memories in this building, but when it comes down to game time, I’m looking for the win as much as they are on the other side.”
Jackman signed with the Predators as a free agent this summer and has registered a plus-3 rating in 30 games with the Predators. He was drafted into the League by the Blues in 1999, won the Calder Trophy as the League’s top rookie in 2003 and ranks second only to Bernie Federko (927) on the Blues’ all-time games played list (803).
So while it might be a little weird for Jackman to be on the visitor’s side, it’s equally weird for some of the Blues, who aren’t exactly used to not being his teammate anymore.
“It was different in Nashville seeing him in that jersey and the yellow helmet, and tonight will be different for sure,” Alexander Steen said.
“As a pair, we got to grow together and he was someone who allowed me to play my offensive-style game,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “I knew I had a rock-steady defenseman back there who can really take care and bail me out of some bad predicaments. But more than anything, he really just taught me how to be a professional and take of myself - at the rink, off the ice and how to be a part of the community and make sure you’re a positive influence with fans.
“He’s someone I will always reference as one of my mentors.”
Jackman met with his some of his former teammates last night and was catching up with others this morning. But when the puck drops, it’s back to business.
The Blues are coming off of a 4-3 comeback win in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Blues rallied back with two power-play goals before Paul Stastny eventually potted the game-winner late in the third period.
While Nashville isn’t likely to be as physical as the Jets were, Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock says they won’t be any less relentless.
“Winnipeg really attacks in one-on-one areas and they’ve got big guys that knock you right out of the box, but (Nashville) overwhelms you with a lot of people around the puck,” Hitchcock said. “Unless you’re prepared to work through it, you’re always going to be stymied and frustrated.”
Nashville is holding onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and is desperate for points. Both Colorado (7-3-0) and Calgary (7-2-1) have gained ground over the last 10 games.
“The W’s will take care of themselves, as long as we play up to par with what we’re capable of,” Steen said. “I thought in Winnipeg, we did that for the most part. We got down by two goals, but I still felt our game was pretty solid and that’s the way we need to play. When you play like that, you have belief you’re always going to come back. Just keep playing and the results will take care of itself.”
For much of the month, the Blues have been trying to find a consistent offense. These Blues are currently rolling:
David Backes has a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists). With an assist on Troy Brouwer’s goal Tuesday in Winnipeg, Backes tied Red Berenson for eighth in all-time Blues assists (240).
Kevin Shattenkirk had two assists against the Jets and extended his point streak to five games (one goal, six assists). If he gets a point tonight, he will be the only defenseman in the NHL to have had two point streaks of six games or longer this season.
Vladimir Tarasenko has a goal in each of his last three games and five of the last six.
Alexander Steen logged his first three-point game of the season Tuesday at Winnipeg, recording a power-play goal and two assists. Since the start of last season, Steen has had eight games with three or more points, which is twice as many as the next closest Blues: Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera each have had four.
Based on today's morning skate, it appears Magnus Paajarvi and Steen will swap places on the left side for tonight. Here are the projected lines for tonight's game.
Alexander Steen - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi - David Backes - Troy Brouwer
Robby Fabbri - Jori Lehtera - Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Petteri Lindbohm - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko
Tonight’s game will wrap up four consecutive meetings with Central Division teams. The Blues are 7-3-0 against division rivals this season.
The Blues have at least one power-play goal in four straight games, scoring five times in their last nine opportunities. On the other end, the Blues have killed 21 straight penalties over the last nine games dating back to Nov. 28 vs. Pittsburgh.
Jake Allen will start in goal tonight and hasn’t given up a goal against the Predators in over 80 minutes, stopping 51 consecutive shots. Earlier this season, he backstopped the Blues to a 4-0 shutout win in Nashville on Nov. 7 with a career-high 45 saves.