With the game last night, I didn't have time to put together a detailed preview. Bullet points will have to do. Some thoughts on tonight's matchup:
- Jaroslav Halak has started the season strongly in goal for St. Louis, which has to be an encouraging sign for a fan base who has anointed him the franchise's savior. I'd wait on that, though, as there's nothing that proves he's any better than Pekka Rinne or even Jimmy Howard.
- With two power play goals (both game winners) in two games, Barry Trotz seems to be inching towards a suitable solution for the man advantage. The biggest key will be consistency, though - if the team can put together a slightly above average power play, the sky is the limit.
- Shea Weber was held without a shot attempt through 2 periods last night, and the team suffered. When Weber was able to pull the trigger in the final frame, the Predators immediately looked more dangerous. While the "pass it to Shea and get outta the way" tactic may be easy to defend against, there remains a need for it.
- Jay McClement is one of the NHL's premiere defensive forwards, albeit extremely unheralded. It'll be interesting to see if Davis Payne matches him up against Cal O`Reilly or Matthew Lombardi, because neither player (Lombardi in particular) has been very effective through two games.
- The Blues have a solid defense 1-6, but no pairing is particularly dominant. Watch for Barry Trotz to try and get the Hornqvist/O'Reilly/Sullivan line out against whatever pair contains rookie Alex Pietrangelo.
- There's a lot of hullabaloo over whether or not the Blues can take that proverbial next step and finish ahead of Nashville in the standings, with most "experts" falling on St. Louis' side. Me? I have no idea where this is coming from. The Predators have been one of the NHL's most consistent teams since the lockout and it seems unlikely that a Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya-less Blues team will make such a huge jump.
- In a back-to-back situation, I'd love to see what Sergei Kostitsyn has to offer (if healthy, which is a possibility) alongside Legwand and Ward. Despite 11 and 29's sterling play to open the season, Smithson still seems to drag the line down. Along with needing to gel with his teammates, Kostitsyn provides good defense and an elite offensive skillset.
- Between not knowing who's in net and it being the 2nd game in as many nights, I won't try to duplicate last night's dead-on prediction. Who do you like tonight, folks? Preds or Blues?