Things do not look good currently for the Nashville Predators. The NHL schedule makers did not do the Preds any favors heading out from the Christmas break either.
Nashville is coming off that gut-wrenching loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, a game which they controlled for about 50 minutes before Corey Crawford took things into his own hands...I mean legs.
The St. Louis Blues
The Blues currently sit in third place in the Central division, seven points ahead of the Predators. Much like the Preds, they have struggled in their last handful of games. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, but have earned points in three of their last four games.
They are coming off a dominating 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, a game where Robby Fabbri netted a hat trick.
St. Louis is always dangerous when leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko is on the ice. Tarasenko leads the Blues in goals (16), assists (23), and points (39). Jaden Schwartz (12), Robby Fabbri (11), and David Perron (10) are the other Blues who have scored double digit goals this season.
The Blues have lost two of three against the Preds this season, but their lone win came in St. Louis where tonight’s game will take place.
The Nashville Predators
This is the Predators’ sixth back-to-back set of the season, and third consecutive division game. Nashville needs to close out 2016 with a win, probably more-so than any team in the NHL. Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Chicago is the kind of loss that can really rattle team morale. The Preds need to get off to a fast start tonight and play like the desperate team they have become.
Something to keep an eye on is the severity of James Neal’s upper-body injury. This team is so injury-riddled right now you almost feel bad for them. Defenseman P.K. Subban will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury, and the team is hopeful he can return Jan. 3 against the Canadiens. Nashville has also been without Miika Salomaki and Anthony Bitetto for much of 2016 as well. It is worth noting, that Nashville has had their six best defensemen healthy at one time for about all of 10 minutes this season.
The good news is Filip Forsberg seems to have found his groove so-to-speak. He has four goals in his last five games - a good sign for someone who looked lost during the first 20-plus games of the season.
Right now Nashville sits three points out of the final wild card spot. This team desperately needs to string wins and collect points right now.
Peter Laviolette was very blunt last night: “We have to get two points and put them in the column.”
Reasons to Watch
- Filip Forsberg is heating up. He has four goals in his last five games, and if there is anything positive to take away from this team right now he is it. He did this last season as well, starting off slow then warming up heading into the All-Star break.
- The Blues are one of only three teams the Preds have multiple wins against this season - the other two are Ottawa and Colorado. Maybe playing St. Louis will provide the team with a little confidence knowing they have beat this team twice already this season.
- The last time these two clubs met, the Preds came back from a mulit-goal deficit to beat the Blues 6-3. We all thought that was the game to turn the Preds’ season around, however it has almost had the exact opposite effect. Maybe this could be a game to turn the Preds fortunes around, much like games against the Colorado Avalanche have been.
Song of the Game
How about a little positivity? Sending good juju the Preds way
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Sights & Sounds
Puck drop is at 7:00 pm c/st. You can watch it of Fox Sports TN or the Fox Sports Go app, and as always you can set your radio dials to 102.5 the Game and listen to the smooth sounds of Pete Weber and Brent Peterson.