Gambling against an injury to your key player in the chase for a vanished playoff spot is the very definition of foolhardy. (PHOTO: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators, 4/9/13

ST. LOUIS BLUES

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

April 9th, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
7:00 p.m. CDT
TV: FOX SportSouth

Unless lightning strikes each and every player on the teams ahead of the Nashville Predators, it’s highly unlikely the boys in gold will make the playoffs this season. That makes tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues all but meaningless. Perhaps there’s some sort of pride on the line, since the Preds can even the season series with a win.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(15-17-8, 5th in Central)

Nashville is coming off of hard-fought, back-to-back weekend losses to Chicago that all but crushed their playoff hopes.

Key players

Barry Trotz said over the weekend that the Preds were planning to ride Pekka Rinne (14-13-7, 2.32 GAA, .915 SV%) for the rest of the season. He’s definitely been playing better lately, but with the playoffs now out of sight the question is why the team would want to run the big guy into the ground. If he picks up a serious injury in a meaningless game, the bad times are only going to get worse here in Nashville.

Others to watch

My eyes these days are on the bevy of Milwaukee Admirals players who have been pressed into service for the Preds this season, Taylor Beck (2G-4A) and emergency call-up Austin Watson in particular. They’re the future of the franchise; what better to pay attention to in the dwindling moments of a terrible season?

ST. LOUIS BLUES

(21-14-2, 2nd in Central)

The Blues have won four games in a row to lift them into seventh place in the Western Conference, just ahead of division rival Detroit.

Key players

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks

Brian Elliott has had a very rocky season. (PHOTO: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Brian Elliott (6-6-1, 3.14 GAA, .879) has been all over the place this year. But after spending some time on the farm in Peoria, he came back last week and made 28 saves to shut out the Red Wings. Nashville’s record against him has been mixed this year: they lost to him on January 21st when they managed just 13 shots on goal, but they put four past him on 11 shots on February 5th.

Chris Stewart (16G-14A) has been very streaky this year, but when he’s been on he has provided a much-needed lift for the Blues. At the moment he has just one point in his last seven games, but that could change at any time.

Others to watch

Patrik Berglund (15G-7A) has three points in the last four games. Alex Steen (6G-18A), who has been the Blues’ top playmaking forward this season, also has three points in his last four games.

Bottom line

The Nashville Predators are more than capable of beating St. Louis when they’re at full strength. But a large complement of Preds are missing due to injury. On the bright side, the young guys on Nashville’s roster will have something to prove as they all look to make an impression in the NHL. How that stacks up against the Blues’ desire to hang on to their playoff spot is another matter altogether.

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