Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ St. Louis Blues 12/12/22
The Predators travel to St. Louis to take on their division rivals for the second time this season.
The Nashville Predators have hit the road for the first time during their busy schedule before the Christmas break. They’re heading up to Missouri to play the St. Louis Blues in a Central Division rivalry game.
The Blues are coming off a game at home against the Colorado Avalanche in which they lost in overtime, giving them a record of 12-15-1. The Predators are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Bridgestone Arena, which also resulted in the loss of two defensemen—Alexandre Carrier and Jeremy Lauzon. They currently hold a record of 12-11-2.
The Blues and Predators are in similar situations when it comes to the standings. They are both out of a playoff spot and separated by only one point in the Central Division. The first matchup between these teams was on October 27th, when the Predators came out with a 6-2 victory.
Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Roman Josi all recorded three point nights, and they led the Predators to a big win that brought them within one game of a .500 record. And now, they’re still fighting for every point that they can earn in the chase for a wild card spot.
The Blues and Predators are not only close to the same in the standings, but the special teams battle will be an interesting one to watch. The Predators power play is abysmal, sitting 28th in the NHL at 16.7%. However, the Blues penalty kill is also terrible, ranking last among all NHL teams at just 65.6%. Then, on the other end, the Blues power play ranks 16th in the NHL, while the Predators penalty kill ranks 19th.
As noted earlier, the Blues are coming into this game as the second half of a back-to-back. Jordan Binnington played in the first game, so there is reason to believe that head coach Craig Berube will start Thomas Greiss in this matchup. He was also the goaltender for the Blues loss in Bridgestone earlier this season, saving 36 out of 41 shots in total.
While the Blues were giving up a hat-trick to Mikko Rantanen, the Predators were making headlines for sending Eeli Tolvanen down and therefore putting him on waivers, while also having Michael McCarron go into the NHLPA’s player assistance program. Sunday was a day full of rage and confusion for the Predators faithful when it came to the Tolvanen situation, but also hope that McCarron will find a solution to whatever problem he is dealing with. So despite the lack of game action, the Predators found a way to make the off day interesting.
Predators Player to Watch: Filip Forsberg
It’s easy to say that Forsberg is the player to watch for the Predators in this game. He’s always the player to watch at some point in every game. However, his previous three point outing against the Blues in October including his career success against the divisional rivals (15 goals, 20 assists for 35 points in 33 games played) makes this decision all the more easy. He was also one of three players in the last matchup to earn over a 70% expected goals percentage (xGF%), which is extremely impressive even though, yes, it is only one game.
Forsberg has been the Predators best forward this season, and considering the money they dedicated to him over the offseason, that’s nothing but good to see. Hopefully, the Predators can see some of his magic in St. Louis and pull out a victory.