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Blues @ Predators Preview: Preds look to keep the good times rollin'

Somebody forgot to tell Kevin Klein it's not November anymore.
Somebody forgot to tell Kevin Klein it's not November anymore.

[7:00 CT] - [Bridgestone Arena] - [TV: FSTN] - [Radio: Listen]

Hockey is a game of ups and downs, and the Predators are experiencing a lot of the former right now. Nashville has won its last four games, including the exciting 4-3 victory over the hated Red Wings.

The Predators will look to keep up the hot streak as the Central Division St. Louis Blues come to Nashville tonight. While the win against Detroit was certainly one of the more exciting of the season, the team knows it has to stay focused and move on to the next challenge.

"I don't think we got too high after that win," head coach Barry Trotz said after today's morning skate. "We realize that we did some good things at the end and got the game on our side and came through. But at the same time, we didn't win the Stanley cup - we wont a hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings. ... I think we're in the right frame of mind. Sometimes as a young team you can get a little that way, but I think we talked about that and we're just prepared for a really good opportunity to play an excellent team on the other side tonight."

Captain Shea Weber thinks this game is even more important, especially with how tight the Western Conference standings are.

"We've got to bring it up even another notch," Weber said. "This game's just as big, if not bigger. We've got to get on a roll here to make any movement in the West."

And Pekka Rinne echoed his captain's sentiments.

"You always want to keep that intensity, try to build the momentum and team confidence," Rinne said. "Confidence-wise it was a big win for us, coming back late like that against a good team like Detroit. We just have to keep it going."

Here are a few other story lines to watch for tonight:

Ken Hitchcock revitalizes stale Blues

Since taking over behind the bench of the struggling Blues, new head coach Ken Hitchcock has led St. Louis to an 11-2-3 record. The Blues currently sit tied for fourth in the Western Conference along with the Red Wings and carry an 18-9-3 record into tonight's game.

A big reason for Hitchcock's success with the Blues is his ability to get the team back to the basics and preach fundamental hockey that had long been lacking in St. Louis.

"The biggest difference is [Hitchcock] has simplified everybody's role," Trotz said. "There's nothing exotic in terms of how they play. ... They're a deep team that doesn't beat themselves and I think that's the number one factor is that he got them working and he got it simplified a little bit. He's got a real good structure to his team and a built in belief. And that's what Hitch does. He's a great motivator and a great teacher."

Shea leads the way

Often times, a team goes as its captain goes, and that's certainly been the case for the surging Predators. In seven games during the month of December, Weber has posted four goals and three assists, including the game-winner against Detroit.

"People follow the leaders and Shea's a leader," Trotz said of his captain. "If you're cutting corners, and you've got your captain stepping up and not cutting corners and doing all the right things, it's pretty hard not to follow that and if you are, you're gonna get called out real quick."

Tale Of The Tape

And courtesy of Dirk, here are your advanced statistics ahead of tonight's matchup:

St Louis (18-9-3) at Nashville (16-11-4)
STL Offense vs. NSH Defense NSH Offense vs. STL Defense
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
STL Offense 2.4 (16th) 30.5 (13th) 7.8 (24th) 1.5 (1st) 25.4 (1st) 941 (1st) STL Defense
NSH Defense 2.3 (8th) 31.4 (26th) 927 (7th) 2.2 (22nd) 25.8 (28th) 8.4 (15th) NSH Offense
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %
Special Teams
GF/60 SF/60 Shoot % GA/60 SA/60 Save %
STL 5-on-4 3.9 (26th) 41.1 (29th) 9.5 (24th) 6.9 (22nd) 50.4 (12th) 864 (23rd) STL 4-on-5
NSH 4-on-5 6.3 (18th) 52.3 (21st) 879 (16th) 7.5 (4th) 52.9 (11th) 14.2 (6th) NSH 5-on-4
GA/60 SA/60 Save % GF/60 SF/60 Shoot %