Nashville Predators vs St. Louis Blues: A National Central Division Showdown
The Predators look to grab their fourth win in their last five games going against a Blues team that they've yet to solve this season
Nashville's done a fine job in its last handful of games pressuring opponents and earning wins against quality opponents, however tonight will deliver another difficult challenge prior to the end of the 2015 calendar year -- this time in front of a national television audience on NBCSN.
The St. Louis Blues
For as solid of a team as the Blues are, they still have their flaws and its highly doubtful they'll catch the Dallas Stars at the top of the Central Division. Still, though, the combination of Jake Allen and Brian Elliott between the pipes continues to surprise as one of the more dynamic goaltending duos across the league.
St. Louis had its hands full with a back-to-back this past weekend with the league-leading Stars, splitting the series winning one in a shootout and then being shutout the next night. Overall, the Blues have had a mediocre December, only accumulating a 7-6-2 record in that span.
Led by one of the finest goal scorers in the league -- only one marker off the league lead -- Vladimir Tarasenko continues to play remarkable hockey, rattling off 39 points in his 37 games. Not only that, but players like Alexander Steen, David Backes and Kevin Shattenkirk all have more than 20 points on the year.
The Nashville Predators
If not for a mightily confusing performance against the Detroit Red Wings this past Saturday, Nashville would be on a four-game winning streak coming into this rare Tuesday night tilt with the Blues. However, here they are, winners of three of the previous four and seemingly beyond whatever slump they found themselves a part of for the majority of December.
Pekka Rinne has played better hockey as of late, however is still allowing weird goals here and there. His penchant for aggressively leaving his net to attack a puck as if it were a steak thrown to a lion came back to bite him against New York, allowing Rangers forward -- and perpetual scorer against the Predators -- Rick Nash to practically toss a puck in an open net. Even so, he's still making the big saves and power Nashville to wins.
Nashville has five players that have eclipsed the 20-point marker already this season: Roman Josi, Shea Weber, Filip Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro and James Neal. It's not surprising that Josi and Weber lead the team in points, however it has definitely been surprising that Forsberg is only now starting to find his way in terms of positive statistics. The young Swede has four goals and two assists in his previous five games, nearly making it five total goals if it weren't due to an overturned goal against the Rangers last night.
Reasons to Watch
- Can Forsberg continue his point streak? I think he can, but this is against St. Louis so who knows
- Nashville has a chance to draw within four points of St. Louis in the division.
- The Predators boast the number four power play in the league to the Blues and their seventh ranked power play/
Skiddily be bop do dop bap boop bop. Everyone loves fun stats! So here's some that you may not know:
- Nashville and St. Louis have played each other 17 times on Tuesday in 17 years. Tonight marks match-up number 18 on Tuesday night. Currently, the Predators have a 7-8-2 record in those games.
- Speaking of those games, the Predators have traded wins and losses with St. Louis over their past six Tuesday night games. Their last time out on a Tuesday against the Blues was a 3-2 win at home.
- In these Tuesday night match-ups, Nashville has been shut-out five separate times
- Both teams are playing fairly even hockey to one-another, holding the same scoring differential at +5. Nashville has scored 97 goals while allowing 92, St. Louis has recorded 95 goals and allowed 90./