Game Preview #14: Predators Play St. Louis In Central Division Showdown

By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

Nashville Predators 5-5-3
St. Louis Blues 9-2-2

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on November 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Will the offensive potential of Marcel Goc, Jordin Tootoo and Sergei Kostitsyn live up to expectations? (Photo: Yardbarker)

This year, the Predators and Blues have played twice, splitting the two games. This will be the first time the Predators will play in St. Louis this season. In Nashville on October 14th, Nashville won 4-3 by scoring early in the first period and hanging on late in the game. On October 28th, Nashville wasn’t so lucky, being shutout 3-0 by Jaroslav Halak.

The Nashville Predators try to break a five game losing streak when they visit the Blues Thursday night. St. Louis will be playing its second game in as many nights. Wednesday night, the Blues were hammered 8-1 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was only the second time this season that St. Louis lost in regulation. The Blues lost more than the game. Leading scorer T.J. Oshie broke his ankle, requires surgery and will miss several weeks of action.

Nashville last played on Sunday when they lost in the final 1.7 seconds of the game. Anaheim edged the Predators 5-4 on a goal by defenseman Paul Mara.

When the puck drops in St. Louis, the Predators will again be without defenseman Ryan Suter and forwards Matthew Lombardi and Martin Erat. The Blues are also a battered team, riddled with injuries. Three of the top 6 defensemen for St. Louis, Carlo Colaiacovo, Roman Polak, and Barret Jackman are all out of the lineup. David Perron is also expected to miss Thursday night’s game. He hasn’t practiced since the Blues played San Jose last week and Joe Thornton hit Perron. In 10 games, Perron has 5 goals and 2 assists. Of course on top of all these previous injuries, the Blues will be without Oshie. Oshie has 1 goal and 9 assists for 10 points in 13 games.

Special teams are always a key to the game. St. Louis is ranked 9th overall on the penalty kill but is near the bottom of the league on the power play (26th overall), scoring only 8.8% of the time at home. Nashville is only ranked 24th on the power play and the penalty kill isn’t stellar (23rd overall). But more important for Nashville is that the Predators need to have their goaltending to get hot. When the Predators score three goals against Phoenix and four goals against Anaheim but lose the game, there is something wrong on the back end. Every goalie has a bad game or two. Hopefully Pekka Rinne can shake it off and get back into the winning column.

Remember, last year the Predators lost six in a row and then went on to win several in a row.

The other key to success for the Predators is to make sure the offense continues to put pucks in the back of the net. Cal O’Reilly currently holds the points lead for the team with 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points. Last year, O’Reilly played 31 games and had the same point total as he has so far in the first 13 games this year. O’Reilly is currently on a four-game assist streak.

After Thursday night’s game, the Nashville Predators finally return to Smashville for a home game on Saturday night. The Predators host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

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