What better way to wrap up an arduous 7-game road trip than with a rematch against Central Division rival St. Louis (7:00 p.m. on FS-TN)?
|Nashville Predators||St. Louis Blues|
|5-on-5 Save %||.929||12th||.935||9th|
|# of PP's/Gm||3.38||27th||3.88||18th|
|# of PK's/Gm||3.75||9th||4.50||18th|
Things are pretty much firing on all cylinders for St. Louis these days, while the Predators are trying to work some bad gas out of the engine.
January 21: St. Louis 4, Nashville 3 - the Preds coughed up a 3rd period lead and fell in the shootout at Bridgestone Arena.
January 24: St. Louis 3, Nashville 0 - on the second game of this current road trip, Jaroslav Halak earned the shutout.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues have had all weekend to stew over a 5-3 loss to Detroit on Friday, only their second of the season.
As noted over at St. Louis Game Time, the Preds have fared well in this series in recent years:
Nashville has the edge since the [2004-2005] lockout, winning 21 games in regulation, four in overtime and eight in shootouts, outscoring St. Louis 126 to 107. In comparison, the Blues won 11 games in regulation, 1 in overtime and 5 in shootouts. In the 50 games since the lockout, a whopping 18 (36%) have gone past regulation to determine a winner.
Oh boy, looks like we could be in for another shootout (yawn).
In goal, look for Brian Elliott to get the start, as Jaroslav Halak is out with a groin (presumably he's having a good time). Elliott had a career year in 2011-2012 with an absurd .940 save percentage (his previous best was a middling .909), so here's to hoping he looks across the ice at Pekka Rinne and remembers that indeed, he is not worthy.
While the Blues have as deep a group of talented forwards as any team in the league, the guy to watch out these days is the recently christened Rookie of the Month for January, Vladimir Tarasenko. Here's what DailyFaceoff.com has listed for their lines and d-pairings:
|David Perron||David Backes||T.J. Oshie|
|Andy McDonald||Alex Steen||Vladimir Tarasenko|
|Vladimir Sobotka||Patrik Berglund||Chris Stewart|
|Jaden Schwartz||Scott Nichol||Ryan Reaves|
|Wade Redden||Alex Pietrangelo|
|Barret Jackman||Kevin Shattenkirk|
|Kris Russell||Roman Polak|
The Preds actually made a short stop back here in Nashville before heading out to wrap up this road trip, and will seek to build on hard-fought back-to-back shootout victories at Los Angeles and San Jose. The big question is whether Martin Erat will be ready to go, after sitting out Saturday's game with swelling in his foot after taking a shot during practice. In his absence, Sergei Kostitsyn enjoyed a promotion (which paid off with Nashville's only regulation goal), and Jon Blum got his first chance to play, as Barry Trotz went with 7 defenseman.
The 7 D situation was especially interesting, as Hal Gill focused primarily on penalty killing duties and Blum got some power play time, allowing him to put his talents to best use.
When you go back to those stats at the top of this preview, the overriding theme heading into tonight is that St. Louis is likely to dominate the shot totals heavily, leaving a heavy burden on the Preds' MVP so far, Pekka Rinne.