After a chippy game and exciting Predators win Saturday afternoon (you can read Nick Morgan’s fantastic recap here), the Preds and the St. Louis Blues face off for game two of their home and home on Sunday evening. Not only can Smashville expect a game with “big feeling” hangovers from both teams, Bridgestone Arena will also host Hockey Day in America airing on NBC celebrating the NHL’s Hockey is For Everyone initiative. (Kate R. has all the details on Sunday’s activities here.)
As evidenced by their tenacious play Saturday night in St. Louis, the Nashville Predators have (potentially) shown they can play like the season is on the line. Goals by Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Duchene ended their scoring droughts, and Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund added a goal each proving that more than just the Smithbaldi line (Smith-Bonino-Grimaldi) are able to score. With the usually calm and collected Filip Forsberg willing to mix it up with Brayden Schenn, the Predators played like a team ready to make a determined run at a wildcard spot.
Yes, we’ve all said that before. Unfortunately, the Predators have struggled to string together more than two wins in a row of late. Could tonight be the night they earn two more points and three consecutive wins? (I swoon to think...) It will also be interesting to see how John Hynes handles the goalie assignment for this game. Will he give Juuse Saros—who has been outstanding in his recent starts—another game to shine, or will Hynes make the standard move to put Pekka Rinne in between the pipes and let Juuse enjoy a well-deserved rest?
St. Louis Blues
It hasn’t been an easy road for the Blues of late. After a hot start to the season, they are barely clinging to the top spot in the Central Division ahead of the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche. The last few weeks have been difficult for the Blues—they have lost eight of their last ten games and their game against Anaheim on February 11 was postponed after Jay Bouwmeester’s collapse on the bench. (All of Nashville is sending best wishes to Jay and his family as he recovers in CA.)
Losing a hard-fought home game against the Predators on Saturday was yet another tough stumble for the Blues. Although they aren’t hurting for a playoff spot like the Predators are, St. Louis has plenty to prove when they take the ice at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. And if Saturday’s game is any indication, they are coming chippy.
Reasons to Watch
- Intense. This game is going to be playoff-hockey, take-extra-Tums, mama-might-say-bad-words INTENSE. Smashville needs to bring the 7th Man.
- Predators fans finally saw life from some of our struggling top forwards Saturday afternoon, and if they can get all cylinders firing it could be a spectacular show. And if not, hockey angst is sometimes best managed as a group.
- It’s WINTER CLASSIC TIME! (Please read in Paul’s “It’s Frosty time!” voice in your head.) The Preds will be sporting their Winter Classic sweaters on Sunday, and while hockey is clearly not about fashion, the Winter Classic jerseys are—in the words of my 15 year old and his trendy cohorts—drip. (That means “cool”.)
Tonight’s Theme Song
I picture Arvy in a big blond curly wig singing this in Bortuzzo’s face. It brings me joy. And if we lose, this may be some Predators fans’ theme song.
How to Watch
Sunday’s puck drop will be at 5:00 PM Central and can be seen on NBCSN and heard on 102.5 The Game.