The Nashville Predators are coming up to the final game of this six game road trip. The last time out the Preds (8-3-2 18 points) were successful in Dallas with a 3-2 win against the Dallas Stars. Pekka Rinne was stellar in net stopping 33 of 35 shots with 2 PPG’s from Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg. Matt Cullen added another goal in the 3rd period (13:47). Tonight, the Preds will be in St. Louis taking on the streaking Blues at Scottrade Center.
The St. Louis Blues (9-3-1 19 points) are the current leaders in the Central Division. They have won 7 straight dating back to their last loss on October 23rd against the Vancouver Canucks. In their last outing, the Blues were able to defeat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Thursday evening. Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen (PPG), and David Backes (PPG) scored for the Blues that led to their victory. Vladimir Tarasenko is currently leading the team in Goals (9), points (16), +/- rating (+10), PP goals (3), and shots (55).
Keys to watch
Tarasenko has been on FIRE in recent games. He has 5 goals and 7 points in his last 5 games. Tarasenko has produced outstanding, jaw-dropping goals of the year already this season. He will give the Preds defense fits in the offensive zone. The defense will have to keep tabs on Tarasenko at all times because his ability to move with the puck and put up points at a moment’s notice could cause problems for the Preds.
Ups and Downs of the Special Teams
Over the past 3 games, the Predator faithful has seen a dramatic improvement of the PP. On Thursday night against the Stars, the Preds were able to put up 2 PPG’s. The Preds are now ranked 21st in the NHL with a PP% of 15.4%. On the flipside, the PK has been atrocious. The Preds are giving up goal after goal and has slowly dipped in their ability to stop the opponent with a man advantage. The Preds PK is now down to 71% and is ranked 28th in the NHL. Consistency is going to be needed on both special teams in order to continue this great start from the team.
Central Division Battle
Tonight’s matchup will be a battle for the Central Division. This has traditionally been one of the closest matchups amongst all teams in the Western Conference. With a record of 42-35-(4)-9, the Predators lead the all-time series between these two teams. With former Blues player, Derek Roy, look for the Preds to take an early season lead and take back 1st place in the Central Division.
After getting 6 out of 10 points so far on this road trip, the Preds complete their 6 games away from Bridgestone Arena. The game tonight will be at 7:00pm on FS-TN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game for all Preds vs Blues action.
*Photo credit – Kristen Jerkins*