Inside the Rivalry: St. Louis Blues
We are taking a look at what makes each division rivalry so much fun.
The St. Louis Blues are a team rich in history and a future that promises to bring that prestige back. These two teams have had similar playing styles in the past. Playing hard nose defense, while being physical and winning the one-on-one battles. The Predators were the dominant team in the mid 2000's, and now St. louis is having their turn. The players don't like each other, and the fans don't like each other. Let's dive in!
Record against St. Louis in 2013-2014: 0-4-1
Once Nashville got a team in 1998, it was interesting to see which teams would be a geographical rival. Obviously, at the time, there were the Atlanta Thrashers (but they were in another conference.) The more intriguing match up though was St. Louis.
Only a four and a half hour drive separated the two cities that would soon become heated division rivals. Up until the lockout, the Blues were a mainstay in the division, and conference. They were one of the big brothers that the Preds were trying to prove themselves to. The Blues were just too good for the expansion team in the late 90's and early 2000's.
After the lockout, however, things seemed to change. The Predators had brought in skill and talent (i.e. Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan). They were looking to be the little brother no more. The post lockout Predators began to show that they were here to compete. They began their run at beating the Blues and had no signs of slowing down. Up until recently, the Preds, for the most part, had the upper hand in the rivalry. Now the tides have turned, and the Blues look like a team on a mission. It is going to be fun to see this rivalry grow this season.
Most Hated Player
Barret Jackman. Ever since the 2002-2003 season, he has been irritating the entire Predators' organization. You never had to worry about him scoring, (unless you are the Blackhawks) but instead, you have to worry about him beating you with his physical play and grind-it-out style. He is an enforcer who isn't afraid of getting dirty and dropping the gloves with anyone. Jackman is the ultimate, "love him if he is own your team, but can't stand him if he's not" kind of guy. Let's just hope that the Preds' new style of play next season will keep him from getting under the skin of the players.
Best Game From Last Season
There weren't many great games last season between these two teams, but there was one gem that stood out to me. That was the February, 1st 2014 tilt in St. Louis. The Blues came out of the gates swinging, and scored within the first five minutes of the game. They tacked on another goal early in the second period to take a 2-0 lead in the game.
They kept coming, but thankfully, the Preds were getting bailed out by Carter Hutton and crossbars. The Preds finally got on the board with a goal from Paul Gaustad, pulling them within one goal at the end of the second. They carried that momentum into the third by scoring two more goals, and taking a 3-2 lead. St. Louis scored quickly right after and tied the game up. We wouldn't see another goal in regulation.
The overtime period was pretty uneventful and the game went to a shootout. The Blues handled their business there and took home the win and the extra point. The Preds did give it their all in this game, fighting to come back and take the lead. Then taking the game to a shootout. Also, then Blues, now Predator, Derek Roy tallied an assist in the game. All in all, a great game.
The Moment That This Became A Rivalry
For me, I think this became a rivalry the moment that Nashville got a team. For St. Louis, they always had their rivalries with Chicago and Detroit, but having a team as close as Nashville could only mean good things for both teams. It also brought an opportunity for the Blues to play against a fresh organization in a new city.
The rivalry really picked up though right before the lockout. The Predators made their first playoff appearance, and were showing that they were here to stay. Match ups against the Blues became more even and competitive. The Smashville faithful found themselves traveling quite frequently to St. Louis for games. At one point, it seemed like it was split right down the middle as far as fans for games in St. Louis. Nowadays, however, the script has flipped. Blues fans are taking over Broadway and the streets of Nashville during the games. I mean let's be honest, this should not be happening in our home building.
It's getting bad enough with Blackhawk fans, now we have to deal with Blues' fans. Nevertheless, with both teams being competitive, or at least trying to be, this rivalry only looks to take off from here.