Just 48 hours after the Nashville Predators took down the Stanley Cup champs, they’ll look to get a repeat performance tonight at home.
Nothing cures getting off of a major slump than by beating the Stanley Cup champions, and that’s what the Nashville Predators did on the road Saturday night by defeating the St.Louis Blues. One of the most complete performances from the Predators in over a month.
The Predators are now 2-6-1 in the month of November and have slid back in the Central Division standings to just two points out of last place. They’re ten points behind the first-place Blues, who they now have a chance to beat twice in two-day period.
Saturday night’s meeting between these two division rivals was the first of the season, and a game that featured the Predators throw a lot of shots at the Blues. They controlled much of the game’s pace, but things did get a little interesting when the Blues pulled their goaltender while already on the power play to get the deficit within one.
The Predators would go onto prevail and end their six-game losing streak. They have some ground to make up after a rough November, so tonight is another night where the Predators need a win badly.
No Arvidsson for at least a month
The big topic of conversation coming out of Saturday night’s win for the Predators is the loss of Viktor Arvidsson. It comes as the result of a very questionable and cheap cross-check from Robert Bortuzzo of the Blues. Bortuzzo has received a four-game suspension for the hit, but the bigger loss goes to the Predators as they lose their top-line winger.
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Arvidsson will now most likely miss at least a month, and maybe more, as a result of Bortuzzo’s hit. It’s a tough blow to a lineup that has constantly been shuffled and struggled to find stability as of late.
This loss of Arvidsson is going to cause more creativity with how to arrange the line combinations. In light of the tough injury news, Daniel Carr will get another opportunity on the NHL level with the Nashville Predators. He’s been recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals to essentially replace Arvidsson in the lineup.
Carr leads Milwaukee in points (21) and goals (11) despite playing in just 16 games this season in the AHL. He got in three games earlier this season with the Predators but didn’t register a point. I’m happy to see Carr get another opportunity as he’s the most-deserving and offers the most value from Milwaukee if Arvidsson is going to be out of the lineup.
What this also means, however, is that Kyle Turris will be a healthy scratch once again. This almost certainly means that his days are numbered in Nashville and he may have already played his last game for the franchise. Now it’s just about finding a trade partner.
How they beat the Blues again
It’s difficult to beat the same team in a two-day period. That’s even more true against a team like the Blues who have been one of the league’s most consistent teams since January of this calendar year.
The Predators played a complete, 60-minute solid performance on Saturday night. They scored 20 seconds into the game off of Filip Forsberg‘s goal, and then they managed to play smart with the lead. They added another goal soon after to give them some cushion, and they never had any major lapses after that.
Not falling behind early is vital for this team. They finally got the monkey off their backs and got a win, but the slump isn’t really over yet. They need to build off of it, and to do that they need to strike first again.
Another formula for success is not getting baited into bad penalties. Emotions will probably be high once again as you have two division rivals that just played each other going at it again. Throw the dirty hit on Arvidsson, and I’m sure the Predators will have no shortage of anger and aggression towards tonight’s game. Hopefully they channel that properly by staying off the penalty kill.
A projected lineup has been announced, and I’m interested to see who starts in net for the Predators. Juuse Saros has had three-straight solid starts in net for the Predators, including the win Saturday night over the Blues where he saved 24 of 26 shots faced.
The top line featured Calle Jarnkrok moving into Arvidsson’s vacant spot in the lineup. Jarnkrok has played very well no matter where they’ve put him in the lineup this season. Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene and Carr will construct the second line. I like how both of these lines are put together.
Mathieu Olivier will get his fourth-straight start for the Predators. He just recorded his first career NHL point against the Blues on Saturday night, and has been fairly impressive since being called up. Love his physical brand he brings to the fourth line.
On the other hand, Pekka Rinne has been chased out of three games this season. All three came in November and his save percentage has sunk to below 90 percent. This after a blazing start where he was 8-0-2 in his first ten starts. If I’m the Predators, I go with the hot hand and start Saros again, but I’ll be surprised if Rinne doesn’t go.
Finally, the Predators have to stick with creating chaos in front of the net and waiting for those fortunate deflections. They’ve been masters at throwing a lot of pucks at the opposition recently, with no less than 37 shots on goal in the last five games. Eventually the tide is going to turn and they’re going to start translate to more goals and more wins.
You can argue that maybe the Blues took the Predators too lightly on Saturday night. They didn’t look like the team that’s leading the division, but you also have to credit the Predators for playing an outstanding game as well. The Blues won’t overlook anything this time around, so the Predators are going to have to play another sharp game.
Stay out of the box, start out fast and get solid goaltending from Saros or Rinne and the Predators have another great chance at beating the Blues and making up more ground in the division. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 P.M. CDT from Bridgestone Arena and will be on Fox Sports Tennessee.