Martel's Musings: Game 13 - Nashville vs St. Louis
Four games away from home can do a lot for bringing a team together.With the first road trip under their belts, posting a successful 2-1-1 record, the Predators are back at home for the start of a five-game home stand beginning with the St. Louis Blues.
Home is where the heart is. That rings true for teams like the Predators, where they excel at home more often than others do.
Alongside the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville is one of only two teams yet to lose a game in regulation on home ice. They'll look to continue that trend against a Blues team that boasts a mighty impressive 5-2-0 record away from the friendly confines of Scottrade Center.
Stats and Interesting Notes of the Day
Home Streaks: After losing five straight to St. Louis inside Bridgestone Arena, Nashville won both home contests last season against the Blues.
One-Goal Wonders: Of the previous 20 games between the two Central Division rivals, 13 of those were settled by one goal. Six of those went to a shootout.
Tarasenko Terror: Vladimir Tarasenko needs to be watched at all times. Last season he led the Blues in scoring against the Predators, with three goals and three assists in five games.
Swiss-Swede Tag Team: Both Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi must enjoy playing against St. Louis. Both notched eight points each in five games against the Blues last season. (Forsberg - 4G, 4A. Josi - 1G, 7A)
Three Things vs St. Louis
Plenty of one-goal contests between the two
You can see in the aforementioned stats and notes that Nashville and St. Louis both often play to a finish where the final score is separated by only one goal. However, what about games against the rest of their opponents?
The same seems to hold true. The Predators have already participated in eight one-goal contests among their first 12 games, while the Blues have seven in their first 13. And the record posted in those games by both teams is equally impressive:
Nashville in one-goal contests: 5-1-2
St. Louis in one-goal contests: 5-1-1
Both aren't allowing very many goals, either, with St. Louis allowing 31 to Nashville's 27.
They each play tight, defensive-oriented hockey with a focus on timely goals. That's why games between these two are so exciting.
Tarasenko and Steen
We all knew that Tarasenko would be the offensive workhorse this season for the Blues, however he has help and it's from a not-so-likely source.
Long-time Blues forward Alexander Steen continues to give Tarasenko a run for his money in terms of topping the offensive production list for St. Louis. Steen's 11 points to Tarasenko's 12 give the Blues their only two players who've notched double digit point totals so far this season.
It shouldn't really come as much of a surprise, either. Steen has two consecutive 60-plus point season under his belt while never breaking more than 51 prior to that. With the talent that St. Louis has collected on its roster, there's no question that he'll continue to see his stats rise as the years progress.
Shattenkirk returns for the Blues; two stellar defensive units face-off
Kevin Shattenkirk has missed all but three of St. Louis' first 13 games, but will be re-activated into the lineup for tonight's game against the Predators.
He'll add to a St. Louis defensive front that ranks third in the NHL -- per War on Ice -- for shots allowed this season at 255. Averaging only 25.3 shots per game, the Blues sit only behind New Jersey and Washington for fewest shots allowed and on average per game in the NHL.
Not too far away, though, sit the Predators among the same pack. Nashville's group has allowed only 267 total shots on net, averaging 28.1 shots allowed per game.
One of the most interesting stats between the two teams, however, are the number of scoring chances allowed. With New Jersey allowing the fewest in the NHL at 214 per War on Ice, St. Louis sits behind them at 216 and Nashville right behind that at 219.
High-danger chances are just as low, with Nashville leading the league in least allowed at 75 and St. Louis trailing by only four.
Granted, the Blues are forcing 50 more of their own scoring chances (289) than the Predators (239) are, but both teams aren't keen to allowing opponents to be in a position to score in the first place.
Player to Watch
Filip Forsberg: I called for Roman Josi to continue his scoring ways against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. He did. Watch for Forsberg to do the same against St. Louis tonight.
(Game 12 Prediction: 3-1 Predators win. Result? 4-2 Predators win. CURRENT RECORD: 7-0-1.)
Nashville starts its five-game homestand out on the right foot, collecting a 4-3 overtime win against St. Louis.