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Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues Preview: Simmonds in Town

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Predators travel to St. Louis with a new winger in tow.

NHL: Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Nashville Predators (37-23-5) take on the St. Louis Blues (33-23-6) in a Central Division showdown and, if the season ended today, preview of a first-round playoff matchup. In a stretch of time where the Predators have played the same teams repeatedly, this will be the third time in ten games that the Predators play the Blues. The previous two games included a 3-2 road loss and a 5-4 home overtime loss for the Predators.

The St. Louis Blues

The last time we talked about the Blues, rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington was busting onto the NHL scene and taking Central Division wins by force. That has not changed. Binnington, the first consistent goaltender in St. Louis in what feels like forever, has a save percentage of .934% in 19 games this season. To go along with that percentage is a record of 14-2-1 in net. It’s a little surprising that Binnington’s name has yet to shoot up in Calder Trophy conversations, because Binnington has been far and away the best rookie goaltender this season and, arguably, is establishing himself as one of the better netminders in the league.

While Binnington has played phenomenal hockey in goal, the Blues forward group is able to take more chances knowing Binnington can bail their slow defense out of a jam. Vladimir Tarasenko in particular is experiencing a renaissance that coincides with Binnington’s emergence. In his last 16 games, Tarasenko has 24 points and is on track to top his point total from last season. The Blues are the best when Tarasenko is hot, so the Predators must know where he is at all times.

The Nashville Predators

It took a shootout for the Predators to prevail over the McDavid-less Edmonton Oilers last night, but the Predators did escape with a 3-2 shootout victory last night. Defender P.K. Subban had both a goal and an assist, dominating play up and down the ice. Brian Boyle ended up scoring the shootout winner for the Predators.

After the game, the Predators immediately made haste to St. Louis where, upon arrival in their hotel, newly acquired winger Wayne Simmonds was waiting to receive the team. He was acquired from Philadelphia in an exchange including Ryan Hartman. Additionally, Mikael Granlund was obtained by the Predators from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Kevin Fiala in a one-for-one trade. The lack of Fiala and Hartman meant that the Predators were short one winger last night, so Matt Irwin took one for the team and played right wing on the fourth line. Thankfully, with Simmonds now with the team, Irwin can avoid playing forward for a little while.

If you missedour OnTheForecheck live deadline stream and recap yesterday, here is Kate, Shaun, and I with our quick recap after the deadline:

Recapping the trade deadline live with Kate, Shawn, and Bobby

Posted by On the Forecheck on Monday, February 25, 2019

Reasons to Watch

  1. This is the current first-round playoff matchup for the Predators. For all we know, these two clubs could easily be playing each other in a month and a half over seven games.
  2. Additionally, with two losses to the Blues in the last ten games, this is a bit of a revenge game for the Predators. Three straight losses against a potential playoff opponent would look very, very bad.
  3. Wayne Simmonds should be playing! Come check out the Predators’ newest member.

Pregame Meal

In honor of Wayne Simmonds joining the Predators, I will be making a Philly cheesesteak for dinner. And yes, when Granlund joins the team, you can bet I’ll be cooking up some classic Minnesota hot dish.

Sights and Sounds

The puck drops in St. Louis at 7:00 Central. The game will be televised at FS-TN while 102.5 The Game will carry it over the radio.