Can The Nashville Predators Dethrone The St. Louis Blues?

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 10: Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators skates to the bench after a 5-4 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena on February 10, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 10: Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators skates to the bench after a 5-4 overtime loss against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena on February 10, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After watching the St. Louis Blues make an improbable Stanley Cup run last season, how will the Nashville Predators match up against the defending champions?

The two teams are more similar than you think, as both the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues are both backstopped by elite goaltenders and have depth at both the forward and defenseman position.

Both teams have also made deep playoff runs recently, with the Predators making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017 and the Blues winning it all last year.

They are also both primed for deep playoff runs again this year, especially after the Nashville Predators brought in Matt Duchene during the offseason to make their center depth very scary, creating a one-two punch of Ryan Johansen and the aforementioned Duchene.

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The Blues will have a similar situation at the center position with Ryan O’Reilly and Brayden Schenn taking the top two center spots, which is also one of the best combos in the NHL.

O’Reilly had a career season last year, which was his first with the Blues, scoring a career-high in goals (28) and assists (49), totaling 77 points while also winning the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league, also winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.

Schenn was also a great complimentary piece for O’Reilly, as he is also good for at least 20 goals and 50 points, but did see a career-high of 28 goals and 70 points in 2017-18, which could happen again as he recovers from a disappointing campaign that only saw him net 17 goals and 54 points.

The third line center position on each team also nearly mirror each other, as Kyle Turris and Tyler Bozak are both solid centers who had a down season last year but could both see a rebound in production next year.

The Nashville Predators do have the advantage on the fourth line, as Bonino provides the Preds with veteran leadership, grit and defense with a hint of scoring while Ivan Barbashev is a young player who is still trying to solidify himself as an NHL player.

On the wing, both teams both have key scorers to look out for, as Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz highlight the St. Louis Blues offense.

Tarasenko, who has reached the 40 goal mark multiple times, is coming off of a somewhat disappointing season, scoring 33 goals and 68 points compared to his usual marks of 40 goals and 75 points, but he is absolutely a key player to look out for as he looks to bounce back.

Tarasenko is one of the most dangerous snipers in the NHL, so If the Predators need to defend against one player on the Blues, it would have to be him.

Schwartz is also coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, as he only managed to score 11 goals and 36 points, while he is usually good for 20 goals and 55 points, but with a Stanley Cup ring, he could easily return to form next year.

The Blues also have a solid supporting cast, with David Perron, Robert Thomas, and Sammy Blais highlighting their depth at the wing position, but it still doesn’t match the amount of depth the Nashville Predators have, as the bottom six wing positions look especially weak with the loss of Patrick Maroon this offseason.

As for defense, the Blues have a solid one-two punch on the right side with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko, who were both a huge part of the Blues cup run as they are both elite on both sides of the ice.

Joel Edmunson and Jay Bouwmeester also hold down the fort on the opposite side, as they are also solid two-way defensemen.

However, their defensive core is no match for the Predators, who have arguably one of the best top fours in the league, even with Dante Fabbro replacing P.K. Subban this year.

Finally, in net, the Blues will have Jordan Binnington in net, the rookie sensation who arguably saved their season last year.

Binnington went 24-5-1 with a 1.89 GAA and a .927 SV% during the Blues run from last place in the Central to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and although he has a small sample size, he will now be considered one of the best goaltenders in the league.

With a Stanley Cup ring on his finger, Jordan Binnington will have a lot of pressure to replicate what he did last season, so although he may not match the marks he reached last season, he will still have a solid enough season to keep the Blues competitive.

The Nashville Predators have a brick wall of their own at the goaltender position, as Pekka Rinne will look to continue his run as one of the most reliable goaltenders in the league, which gives the Predators an advantage at nearly every position over the St. Louis Blues.

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On paper, the Preds have the manpower to take down the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but these teams will match up well against each other this season, making for another fun chapter in the Predators-Blues rivalry.