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Game 32 St. Louis @ Nashville – New Directions


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Photo by The Associated Press

Under the reigns of new head coach Ken Hitchcock, the St. Louis Blues have enjoyed amazing success since he took over on November 6, 2011. Going 12-2-3 over the last 17 games under Hitchcock has the Blues as the sexy pick to challenge for the division.

The Predators are banking on drive, resiliency and a ton of luck riding a four-game winning streak. Captain Shea Weber took over the last five minutes of Thursday’s game and scored the game-tying and game-winning goals making him the #1 star of the night on NHL Network.

…But the St. Louis Blues will be looking to avenge their opening night loss to the Predators in a big way.

This Year’s Series: 1-0-0 (0-0-0 Home, 1-0-0 Away)

This Season’s Video Recaps:

Oct. 8 2011:

Looking at the Blues: In a word: Scary. With the amount of talent that the Blues possess, it was only a matter of time before someone (Hitchcock) deciphered the code to get them all on the same page. The return of Perron has been a moral uplift for St. Louis and he has performed admirably tallying 4 points in his last 5 games.

The roster for the Blues is a who’s who of up and coming talent. Alongside grizzled veterans like Arnott and Langenbrunner, the skills of Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and T.J. Oshie (an extremely underrated forward), give the Blues all the pieces to make a deep playoff run for many years to come.

Looking at the Predators: It’s time to treat what is happening in Nashville like you would a pitcher with a no-hitter going; like the first two rules of Fight Club. Nashville is taking full advantage of the home-heavy scheduling of December and are looking to continue that trend by slowly creeping closer to their central division rivals while stealing much-needed points from them.

Rinne has kept the Predators in games where they maybe shouldn’t have been and the defensive pair of Weber and Suter are showing the NHL why they are arguably the #1 pair in the league. The dark horse candidate (along with Tootoo) as the surprise this season could be Matt Halischuk who already sits at 6 goals on the year. Tootoo is on pace to shatter his best season point total of 18 within the next 10 games.

For the Blues to win: Listen to Hitchcock. The system is working and there is no reason to buck the tiger when the success is so palpable for the Blues. David Backes and Alex Steen are leading the way in goals with 10, and with the rest of the squad pulling their weight, it might be a revengeful night at Bridgestone Arena.

Brian Elliott has definitely taken over as starter for the Blues putting up mind-blowing stats. He will be the difference in this game as this might turn into another goalie battle similar to the Flames game on Tuesday.

For the Predators to win: Keep on keeping on. The Predators were out-played in every facet of Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. The determination of the Predators and most importantly from their captain won them the game. For the Predators to come out with at least a point, they will have to jump all over the Blues early and not let up.

Tootoo could be instrumental in this game by drawing penalties and keeping the Predators  on the PP, which is still ranked in the top 5 of the league. Stellar goal tending and strong defensive play from those not named Weber and Suter should give Nashville the regulation win. The added bonus of another sell-out crowd pulsing and uplifting the Predators doesn’t hurt either.

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