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Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues: Battle for the Central

Winner takes sole possession of the Central Division. Well, unless it goes to overtime. Three point games are silly.

NHL: Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Predators hockey is finally back!

After the Christmas/Roman Josi proposal hiatus, the Nashville Predators travel to St. Louis tonight to decide who leads the Central Division. The St. Louis Blues currently hold that title, with 48 points to Nashville’s 47, but the Predators also have three games in hand. These teams have only played once this season, a 2-0 away victory for the good guys in gold.

It should be an excellent and exciting battle for the top of the Central.

The St. Louis Blues

For the majority of the young season, the Blues have been the leaders of the Central Division. That title was taken by the Jets for about a day and then usurped by the Predators. Now the Blues are back in first by one point. Needless to say, they are as dangerous as a team comes in the NHL.

Their trio of Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz (extended injury notwithstanding) has been absolutely lethal this season, as each player is already closing in on forty points for the season. Furthermore, Alexander Pietrangelo has been playing at near-Norris quality while the 6’6” Colton Parayko seems to have finally grown into his mammoth body frame.

Make no mistake, this is an elite Blues team with plenty of firepower. They are performing much better than they were during last year’s playoffs.

The Nashville Predators

Entering the Christmas break, the Predators suffered a three-game losing streak, including most recently a shootout loss in Dallas. Some of the Predators’ underlying advanced statistics indicated that they were performing slightly better than they should have been, so there’s not a huge cause for concern. Furthermore, one can also argue that the reason why their shot metrics have been so bad is because the Predators have jumped out to early leads, thus forcing opponents to become desperate and fire more shots.

However, the Predators still have the huge problem of blowing leads. While the Predators of past may have only dreamt about having an offensive as potent as the current lineup, a three goal lead would be two easy points. This season, they keep letting teams get back into games. It’s a major problem, and the Predators need to re-learn how to close out games.

Reasons to Watch

  1. The Predators are playing hockey again! Yay!
  2. This is a marquee match-up with both teams vying for the top of the Central Division. Two very big points are on the line tonight.
  3. How much longer can Kevin Fiala extend his 11 game point streak?

Sights and Sounds

The puck drops at 7:00ct tonight in St. Louis. You can catch the game on FS-TN or on 102.5 The Game.