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Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues Preview: Déjà Vu All Over Again

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Seriously, we just did this.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, the Predators hosted the Blues at Bridgestone Arena. In case you missed it, the Preds won 4-1, with Kevin Fiala making plays, the fourth line getting on the board twice, Filip Forsberg scoring the gamewinning goal shorthanded, and Pekka Rinne became the winningest Finnish goalie in NHL history for the regular season as well as the playoffs.

Now it’s the Blues’ turn to host as both teams head west. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves in their second game under new head coach Craig Berube, and Berube probably wants to start making his case for continued employment as soon as possible.

The St. Louis Blues:

This is basically the same team that Bobby previewed two days ago. On Wednesday, the Blues finally remembered how to score goals after having been shut out in consecutive games. Given the kind of forward talent they have, it was probably inevitable, but they’re very capable of making tonight a bad night for Rinne.

Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are the team’s standout scoring leaders, although you have to question how long O’Reilly is going to continue to shoot at an eye-popping 19% (eight points above his career average). Tarasenko, on the other hand, should start heating up at some point.

Jake Allen has had a rough year. He’d had three excellent games going into Wednesday night, where he only managed to stop one of every eleven shots he faced. That’s still an improvement on his yearly performance, and at some point you have to wonder when or if the Blues will let backup Chad Johnson, who’s putting up respectably NHL-level numbers this season, take the reins.

The Blues’ biggest issue, aside from Allen’s mostly inadequate performances, has been that they started the year off so badly. In the meat grinder that is the Central Division, they have a lot of ground to make up, and they need to start making it up as soon as possible unless they’ve decided it’s time to lose for Hughes.

Every game from here on out is very important for them.

Any time a team needs a shootout win as badly as it does a regulation one is not a good time.
Micah Blake McCurdy/@IneffectiveMath, hockeyviz.com

The Nashville Predators:

Kevin Fiala finally crept north of the ten-minute mark again in Wednesday’s game, and he looked good while doing it. Also, he was playing very solid hockey. If Fiala has found his footing again, that’s a huge help to a team still trying to fill in the top six without Viktor Arvidsson.

With Frederick Gaudreau’s goal last night, every single skater who’s played with the Preds this season has at least one point. The team is getting depth scoring when they need it, which is good, because they definitely need it.

Pekka Rinne has been fantastic (Finntastic? …Finnomenal?), while Juuse Saros has had a rougher year. Both of them have been playing behind sometimes-patchy defense, though the Predators did the better job of protecting the slot on Wednesday. Fun fact: Saros’s first career shutout was at the Scottrade Center, a 4-0 Preds win in December 2016. What’s that worth? Probably nothing, but it’s fun trivia on the off chance that Rinne doesn’t get the start.

There’s roster space available for P.K. Subban to return tonight, which would definitely bolster the defense corps—Dan Hamhuis has been adequate playing with Mattias Ekholm on the second pairing, but imagine how much better things will look once Hamhuis is able to return to the third pairing and Subban is able to return to the ice. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Reasons to Watch:

  1. Filip Forsberg, the Prince in the South. He’s gotten settled again without Arvidsson, and Wednesday night was just fantastic. More of this, please.
  2. #SubbanWatch2018
  3. I’m ready to get burned again, but I’m optimistic about Fiala.

How to Watch:

The game starts at 7PM Central time. You can watch the game on FS-TN or listen to the radio call on 102.5 The Game.