Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues
Bridgestone Arena, 7 pm
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (HD) | Radio: 104.5 The Zone, Predators Radio Network
It will be fan appreciation night at Bridgestone Arena when the Predators play the Blues, but one player who fans won’t get to appreciate is Blues power forward Keith Tkachuk. Yes, the man they call “Big Walt” has called it a career and did not make the trip to Nashville. He ends his 19-year journey as one of the all-time best American-born players and one of only two players to ever record 1,000 points, 200 power play goals, and 2,200 PIMs. Congrats on a long, hard journey with a sweet ending, surrounded by fans and family last night.
That said, I won’t miss him cross checking any of our guys in the mouth tonight.
Nashville can only control so much by winning tonight, namely the ability to finish as high as fifth but not guaranteeing anything. Besides, if San Jose loses tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks finish first overall anyway and the Sharks would face the seven seed. There’s a lot that can shift yet, as only Vancouver (3), Phoenix (4), and Colorado (8) have been locked in for the playoff seeds.
The Predators will be without Patric Hornqvist
tonight, but the coaching staff seems to keep an optimistic tone that he’d be ready for Game One next week. Let’s hope that’s the case. Also Denis Grebeshkov is slowly getting better, and shot pucks for the first time in his rehab the other day. He might be a possible mid-first round return.
The Blues will be without several key players besides Tkachuk tonight, with TJ Oshie questionable (and likely not to play) and Jackman, Polak, and Berglund out for tonight for sure.
So that said, what Nashville needs to show tonight is a lack of rust, or as Barry Trotz put it this morning, “a need for more detail in (Nashville’s) game”. He thought it might be a problem Wednesday night, and it was. Coach Trotz made no bones about saying his third and fourth line players were the problem against Phoenix, feeling they did not show up and compete at all. Knowing that the Predators stake the team reputation on four hard-working lines, it needs to change for tonight. Keep your eye on the Predators’ grinding players this evening.Notes:
Keys to the Game
- Pekka Rinne will get the nod in net against Ty Conklin for St. Louis. Rinne has been one of the hottest goaltenders in the league since the Olympic break and the Predators desperately need him to continue his hot play. Peks has posted an 11-4-1 mark, 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage along with four donuts in that stretch.
- Chris Mason won his 30th game of the year last night, setting a new career high for the former Predators netminder. Speaking with him in the hallway this morning, he said he had not heard if he will get the call for Team Canada and the World Championships, saying it might be a few more days.
- Keith Tkachuck finishes his career with 1,201 games played, 538 goals, 1,065 points, and 2,219 PIMs. Oh yeah, and a mighty 212 PPG. Despite never having won a Stanley Cup, you can be sure his name will be bantered about for Hall of Fame consideration in three years.
- Simply put by Barry Trotz this morning: compete level. It simply has to be there tonight for the Predators.
- Get Jason Arnott going. He looked good at times on Wednesday, and he really has to ramp things up heading into next week’s opening round.
- Keep your nose clean. It’s not about having punch-in-the-face contests tonight, no one on the Preds needs to get involved in that kind of stuff at this point.