NASHVILLE - The Blues come roaring into Nashville as winners of four of their last five games, including Saturday’s 6-5 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks in which the Blues erased a three-goal deficit.
Tonight, the Blues gear up for a divisional showdown with the Nashville Predators (8-2-2) at Bridgestone Arena (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
The Blues, who have been collecting the wins despite a handful of significant injuries, will have Kevin Shattenkirk back in the lineup tonight.
“It’s a good feeling,” Shattenkirk said. “A little anxiousness, but more than anything, it’s nice to be back in the routine of a gameday and not have to worry about whether you’re going to be feeling good on the ice or whether the injury is going to creep back up again. I’m pretty confident in what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks has helped me strengthen everything and have me ready for the game tonight.”
Shattenkirk was injured Oct. 13 in Calgary and has missed 10 games.
“You get injured and hope its never too long,” Shattenkirk said. “The original timetable was a lot shorter. I also knew with this type of injury it could be any sort of length. I’m just happy I feel better now and can go play hockey.”
The Blues power play units will certainly get a boost from Shattenkirk’s return. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Blues have a 24.7 percent success rate on the power play with Shattenkirk in the lineup. In 35 games without him, the power-play is just 13.7 percent effective.
“He’s a huge part of every aspect of our transition,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Our power play was great during the exhibition time and had a great start to the season. Obviously we’ve missed him there. He’s a smart player and he makes other people around him better because he gets the puck up to the forwards so easily. It’s going to take him a few games to get up to speed because he’s missed a lot…but just his smarts alone are going to help us.”
FRIEND OR FOE?
Longtime Blue Barret Jackman will face off against his former teammates for the first time tonight.
Jackman spent 13 seasons with the Blues and was the longest-tenured pro athlete in St. Louis until his departure in the offseason. He ranks second on the Blues’ all-time regular season games played list (803), second only to Bernie Federko (927).
Jackman signed a two-year deal with the Predators in the offseason.
“I think it was probably the first thing I did when I signed (with Nashville) was look at the schedule and see when I was going to face the Blue Note,” Jackman said. “Today is finally the day.”
Jackman has played 11 games this season for Nashville, registering one assist and a plus-5 rating, which ranks second on the team.
“It’s made me feel like a rookie again,” Jackman said of playing for Nashville. “It’s a great team, a great organization. Thankfully it worked out here and I think the foundation and the core players on this team are outstanding.”
Several Blues had dinner with Jackman and his family at his Nashville home last night, and the players admit it will be tough to play against him tonight.
“He’s someone I’ve grown so accustomed to on the blue line as a partner. We know what he brings to the table,” Shattenkirk said. “He brings a lot of grit and strong defensive play, so we have to know that he's going to be really fighting to prove something tonight. It’s strange. He’s someone who was a staple for the Blues and I think a lot people still think of him as a Blue.”
THE THING ABOUT BACON
As you may have heard, an autocorrect on the Blues’ Instagram account became a nationwide trending topic this week. The legend of #RoarBacon continues to grow, most recently with David Backes bringing a pig to practice on Friday.
“I figured with #RoarBacon, it was time to bring him out and have a mascot for this phenomenon of auto-correct,” Backes said.
The Blues will create a #RoarBacon T-shirt, which will be available in the True Blues Authentic Team Store beginning Saturday, Nov. 14. Fans can submit their T-shirt designs now on Twitter and Instagram by using #RoarBacon, and a winner will be chosen by fan vote on Monday.
If you missed it, read more about #RoarBacon and see video from Piggy Smalls’ visit to the locker room by clicking here.
Today’s skate in Nashville was optional, but here are the projected lines for tonight based on Friday’s practice.
Steen - Lehtera - Tarasenko
Fabbri - Backes - Upshall
Paajarvi - Gomez - Brouwer
Jaskin - Brodziak - Reaves
Edmundson - Pietrangelo
Shattenkirk - Gunnarsson
Bouwmeester - Parayko
Troy Brouwer has points in six straight games against the Predators (seven goals, one assist). “Everyone says they always have a team they just have good success against,” Brouwer said. “Apparently Nashville is mine.”
Martin Havlat signed a one-year deal with the Blues on Friday. Havlat won’t play tonight but will be in the lineup against the Devils or Rangers next week.
Dainius Zubrus, who was in St. Louis on a professional tryout, was released on Friday.