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Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues: Scratching and Clawing

Predators face feisty Blues team who have fought back to a playoff spot.

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

Today the Nashville Predators (33-19-4) travel to St. Louis to play the Blues (25-22-5) in a shocking battle of two playoff teams.

It feels like just yesterday that the Blues were completely out of the playoff picture, a plethora of points behind everyone else except Chicago. Nonetheless, due to the falloff of teams such as the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche, and Vancouver Canucks, the Blues hold the final wild card spot.

The St. Louis Blues

As mentioned, it has been a wild last month for the Blues, resulting in a wild card spot. Ryan O’Reilly has still remained a force for the Blues and has arguably established himself as the Central Division’s best off-season addition.

However, what is cause for much greater concern is that Vladimir Tarasenko seems to have found his stride once again after getting off to a slow start to the season. The Russian winger has points in six consecutive games and had a phenomenal January. Tarasenko is one of the league’s most dangerous two-way players in the game, so with him on a scoring streak the Predators must be exceptionally disciplined in defending him.

Finally, in a bizarre turn of events, the Blues just might have found consistent goaltending. Although not generating the buzz of Carter Hart because he’s not on the east coast, Jordan Binnington has been an absolute stud in net for the Blues. He’s started ten games this season, and has a GAA of 1.70 and a save percentage of .931%. For the first time in forever, the Blues are getting the goaltending they need to compete with the higher tier teams.

The Nashville Predators

Coming off of a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars, the Predators are still deciphering what their optimal, or rather preferred, lineup is with their new additions. Cody McLeod is back in the fold but, in trading for the 6’6” Brian Boyle, the Predators now have a big man that fills a role previously absent from the roster. While Boyle has been working on the power play, he was also a third-line winger alongside Kyle Turris last game.

It will be worth keeping an eye on where Turris plays today. Splitting him off from the wing pairing of Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith felt odd, but if there’s any time to play with and fine-tune a lineup, now is it. Sooner or later expect Turris to be back on the second line while Nick Bonino gets a chance to test run having Boyle on his wing.

Reasons to Watch

  1. Miss Thursday’s game? Well, go see your newest Predators today!
  2. Ryan Johansen scored a poised goal in overtime to sink the Dallas Stars. He’s been in a groove all season; hopefully he can score again today.
  3. Vladimir Tarasenko is probably my favorite non-Predator in the league to watch play. He’s electric, but in a cool, controlled way that not many players in this league are.

Pregame Meal

I’m about to go participate in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 5th Line 5k so, if I feel like eating afterwards, it’ll probably be chicken and waffles for brunch.

Sights and Sounds

The puck drops in St. Louis at 1:00 CT. Fox Sports South will televise the game while 102.5 The Game will carry it on the radio.