Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues
5 pm CST
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (HD) | Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network
Two teams coming off 1-0 shutout wins last night meet (me) in St. Louis as the Blue blanked the Devils on the road Saturday night and the Predators won in overtime against the Blue Jackets at home. Both teams had travel and a lack of ice time this morning, so the playing field will be fairly level.
The Blues have experienced a resurgence under new head coach Davis Payne, who has guided his club to wins in 9 of the last 12 games and has them looking at the playoffs as a real possibility. Just as they did last season, St. Louis is making a late charge toward respectability and a possible playoff berth. At this point, however, chances are far slimmer than they were at this point last year when the team reached as high as sixth before just getting in under the wire and getting swept in the first round.
Coming into today’s game, Nashville sits in sixth place tied with the LA Kings (who are listed fifth due to having played two less games) at 87 points. The Blues have 77 points in 10th and are six back of the Detroit Red Wings, who occupy the eighth and final spot with 83. For the Blues to be able to make the playoffs, they have to win at least two of their three remaining games against Nashville and keep playing as well as they have on this recent stretch.
Goaltending will be key for either side, as Nashville goes back with Pekka Rinne
today after he earned the win last night. St. Louis may opt to come back with Chris Mason against the Predators today despite Ty Conklin’s shutout performance last night due to travel and the fact that Mason always seems to play well against his former club.
Jason Arnott is doubtful for today’s game, and the Predators are nursing various other bumps and bruises for tonight, which may see the insertion of Cal O’Reilly or Wade Belak – and possibly both. St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak appeared to hurt his shoulder in a collision against the Devils, and his status is unknown for today’s game.Notes:
Keys to the Game
- Pekka Rinne has not allowed a goal in three of his last five starts, and now has 12 career shutouts. His current streak of not allowing a goal is just over 131 minutes.
- Colin Wilson has a point in six of his last eight games (4-4-8).
- Expect to see Dustin Boyd at center between Wilson and Martin Erat without Jason Arnott in the lineup.
- Former Predator Paul Karyia scored his 400th NHL goal last Thursday
- St. Louis’ 22 road victories are the most in the NHL this season, but their 12 home wins ranks the Blues dead last in that department.
- Help your goaltender. Rinne needs to see pucks to stop them, and St. Louis has some bodies that can cause havoc in front of the net. Cleaning out the crease will be very important.
- Pressure the St. Louis defense to move the puck quickly, and follow through on your checks. Both teams are going to be tired, so the decision-making process may be a bit lackluster. Forcing mistakes with pressure should result in good chances.
- Strong finish. Nashville varies how the first period goes almost every game – sometimes good, sometimes bad. But they have been able to finish consistently lately, getting better as the game goes on. Once again, the Preds must push all the way through to the end of the game.