Nashville Predators Can Make Big Statement This Weekend vs. St.Louis

hhNASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues skates against Dan Hamhuis #5 of the Nashville Predators during a NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on November 21, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images)
hhNASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues skates against Dan Hamhuis #5 of the Nashville Predators during a NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on November 21, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images) /

Whenever the Nashville Predators have had these opportunities to take big steps forwards, they’ve fallen short. They have another chance today.

Sooner or later the Nashville Predators have to start winning these crucial games that can springboard them back into the playoff picture.

They’ve had chances in the past to seize control and always seem to suffer a major setback by laying an egg. The loss to Vegas just two weeks ago immediately jumps to mind, and the loss to the Oilers just last Saturday.

The Predators have a matinee showdown with the first-place St.Louis today at 2 P.M. CDT. They’ll play again in Nashville tomorrow evening, wrapping up the seasons series between the two teams.

The wildcard race is already congested between several teams, and the Predators are right in the middle of it all. But the Blues are in a crowded race of their own at the top of the division.

You have the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche both within striking distance of passing up the Blues for the Central Division lead.

So this back-to-back has massive implications for both the Predators and Blues, even though the Predators are the ones clinging onto hopes of just getting in.

The Predators haven’t had a winning streak of longer than two games since October. They’re in major need of building one and giving themselves some cushion in the wildcard race.

They’re in a really solid position with the games in hand over the two current wildcard teams, Arizona and Calgary.

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Can the Predators hang with the Blues?

Well obviously they can considering they’ve already beaten them twice back in November. That was also a quick two-game turnaround as there was one day in between to rest.

This time the teams will turn around and play again tomorrow in Nashville.

In the last two meetings, Juuse Saros got the win in both matchups, while the Predators came home and won in dramatic fashion via the shootout in the second game.

We’re going to get the best version of the Blues this time around. They’ve got a lot to play for in their own right, and it’s home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

The Blues are kind of stumbling along currently as they’ve lost three in a row, and have just two wins since the All-Star break.

David Perron leads the team in goals with 23, and Brayden Schenn right behind him with 20 goals on the season.

The scary situation that happened with Jay Bouwmeester thankfully ended with medical workers responding swiftly. He’s out indefinitely, and it was a strong reminder that this is just a game and we all come together when things like this happen.

What to expect from the Predators

On the Predators’ side, they’re getting closer to seeing the return of Ryan Ellis to the lineup. They’re really going to need him for the home stretch, and hopefully it won’t take him too long to shake the rust off.

Ellis hasn’t played since being injured in the Winter Classic by taking an elbow to the head by Dallas’ Corey Perry.

It looks like the Predators are sticking with their lineup that defeated the New York Islanders 5-0 in their last game on Thursday night.

Nashville’s third line with Nick Bonino, Craig Smith and Rocco Grimaldi continue to light things up and remain a consistent producer. Now we just need the top of the lineup to live up to their talents.

I really think that the Predators are showing some real progress under John Hynes. They’re 8-7 since the coaching change that relieved Peter Laviolette of his duties, and brought in the third head coach in Predators history.

We’re also finally starting to see some consistency in the lineups from game to game. Not as much shifting as we were seeing for much of the first half of the season.

This will be a huge test, and if the Predators manage to at least split these two games, then we’ll have to be pretty pleased with that outcome. Winning three out of every four is the goal, and absolutely no lengthy losing streaks.

However, a full sweep will give the Predators their first three-game winning streak since October. I’ll be surprised by a two-game sweep, but a split is very attainable for the Predators.

They’re catching the Blues at a time when they’re really struggling, but I don’t see them staying down much longer. They’re still the defending Stanley Cup champs and have a roster that’s full of crafty veterans, a top-five power play and formidable goaltending.

If the Predators win three or four of these next five before the trade deadline, I believe GM David Poile will stay put with what he has and not sell off any big assets.

Related Story. How the Predators Stack Up With the Blues in Crowded Central Division Race. light

Time to get a big division win on the road, and return home tomorrow to an uproar of Nashville Predators fans on Broadway.