The Blues came on strong last year to take their first Central Division title since 2000. Can the Predators slow down Ken Hitchcock's juggernaut?
Remember folks, it's a 5:00 p.m. Monday afternoon start for this one, as the Predators host their traditional Martin Luther King Day game. The Preds are 3-4-0 all-time on the holiday, after having beaten the Islanders last year 3-1.
Since it's too early for the stats to mean much, let's review the numbers from last season:
|St Louis Blues||Nashville Predators|
|5-on-5 Shots For/60 Min.||30.2||10th||27.4||24th|
|5-on-5 Shots Against/60||26.0||1st||30.5||25th|
|5-on-5 Save %||.936||1st||.924||7th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.29||15th||3.05||26th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.44||19th||2.98||6th|
Even setting aside the career year that Brian Elliott had in the Blues' net, the St. Louis skaters carried the flow of play at a dominating level. The Preds went 4-1-1 against the Blues last season, however, so they certainly shouldn't lack for confidence.
Last Time Out
While the Predators ground out a shootout loss to the Blue Jackets, St. Louis demolished Detroit in their home opener 6-0, turning Blues fans all giddy. Not that I blame them, we'd be giddy too if a rookie stepped into the lineup and scored twice in his first game, including this doozy:
Who to Watch Out For
Besides rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, who is seen above, keep an eye on these Blues:
After finishing 4th in the Norris Trophy voting last season, Pietrangelo is primed to make a run for the prize this year, in just his 3rd full NHL season.
Due to the early start there won't be a morning skate, so we may have to wait until late afternoon before hearing about any potential lineup changes. With Vic Bartley heading back to Milwaukee, the possilbilities include Richard Clune possibly getting a chance to play instead of McGrattan, or Jonathon Blum getting some work on defense. The lines on Saturday started out as follows:
|Sergei Kostitsyn||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Craig Smith||David Legwand||Patric Hornqvist|
|Colin Wilson||Paul Gaustad||Matt Halischuk|
|Brian McGrattan||Nick Spaling||Brandon Yip|
In the third period, however, Smith's ice time was slashed, and Wilson got the chance to play alongside Legwand and Hornqvist. The defense was largely as follows:
|Roman Josi||Shea Weber|
|Scott Hannan||Kevin Klein|
|Hal Gill||Ryan Ellis|
So what do you think, will Barry Trotz shuffle the deck at all?