Game Preview #20: Preds Try To Bounce Back Against The Blues

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By Amanda DiPaolo

Season Records

St. Louis Blues 11-5-3 (5th in the West)
Nashville Predators 9-7-3 (13th in the West)

Nashville Predators Ryan Suter (20) forces St. Louis Blues TJ Oshie into the boards during the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 29, 2009. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom
The Blues TJ Oshie is out with a broken ankle, but Predators fans sure would breath a sign of relief if Ryan Suter returned to the lineup Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

Just two wins separate the Nashville Predators from the St. Louis Blues in the standings. Those four points also, however, represent an 8-spot jump in the increasingly close Western Conference standings. When the Predators host the Blues Wednesday night, they will try to get back on the right track, gaining back the ground they lost after losing Monday night in Columbus to the Blue Jackets.

Nashville is 2-1 against the Blues this season, who are without first liners David Perron and T.J. Oshie. The Predators are also without one of their offensive weapons. It’s no secret, Matthew Lombardi has been out of the lineup since the second game of the season when he suffered a concussion against Chicago. Of more pressing concern is that the Predators are playing without their number one shutdown center, David Legwand.

Legwand suffered a lower body injury against the Montreal Canadiens when defenseman Roman Hamrlik hit him into the boards. There is no word as of Tuesday night whether Legwand will be in the lineup or not, but it is doubtful.

The Predators are also without U.S. Olympian Ryan Suter. The second half of Nashville’s number one defensive pairing, along with captain Shea Weber, was injured on October 19th, playing against the Calgary Flames and has only played in three games since.

But there is good news on the Suter front. Kevin Allen of USA Today reports that the Predators hope to have the defenseman back soon and his return is not ruled out for Wednesday against St. Louis.

Suter and Legwand are key to the Predators success. Besides being one half of Nashville’s shutout defensive pairing, Suter could also help with the power play. The team hasn’t scored a goal with the man advantage since November 3rd when Nashville was in Phoenix.

As for Legwand, the Michigan native might not score every night, but he plays against the other team’s top line each game. Playing on a team that isn’t known for scoring 3 goals each game, it is especially important to keep the offense of the opponent in check. It’s ok to rely on a player like Jerred Smithson to play the Legwand role every now and then. In Carolina, Smithson had a goal, played significant time on the penalty kill and was over 60% in the faceoff circle. But can he be expected to step up on a consistent level without making significant mistakes that will end up costing the Predators? For Nashville, it would be preferable not to have to find out.

The Blues are also missing defensemen Barret Jackman and Roman Polak from their lineup. However, the Blues official website is now saying that Jackman, who has been out of the lineup since he sprained his right knee against San Jose November 4th, might play Wednesday night.

Over the passed month, Nashville has played 11 of 13 games on the road but will be at Bridgestone Arena for three of the next four games. With only 7 home games, the Predators are tied with the New York Islanders for fewest home games played this season in the NHL. Nashville, known for its strong play at home, will now have the opportunity to benefit from playing at home, which is especially important against a Blues team that is 8-0-1 at home this season, but 3-5-2 on the road.

When the puck drops Wednesday night, the Blues will be looking to win their third straight game. Nashville will try to erase the loss to Columbus Monday night at Nationwide Arena. Tickets are still available at the Box Office.

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Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. The next Predators home game is Wednesday, November 24th when the Preds take on the St. Louis Blues for the third and final time at Bridgestone Arena. The game is going to be televised nationally on Versus. You do not want to miss it!

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Tags: Barret Jackman David Legwand Jerred Smithson Matthew Lombardi Montreal Canadiens Nashville Predators NHL Phoenix Coyotes Roman Polak Ryan Suter San Jose Sharks St. Louis Blues TJ Oshie

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