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Game 77: Nashville @ St. Louis – “Arch” Nemesis


AP Photo/Mike Strasinger

Every time the Blues and Predators have taken the ice this season, it has been a tight affair. Low scoring games, aggressive checking and 3 of the 5 games have gone to a shootout with Nashville taking 2 of the 3.

St. Louis is sitting pretty atop the Central Division and have a strong chance to finish out the season as the President’s Trophy winner. Nashville keeps jockeying for position with Detroit for 4th place in the West and home-ice.

As per usual, this game will be a spirited affair and Nashville has the chance to clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and some other teams losses. Game time is 7 P.M. Central with FS Tennessee on the tube and 102.5 the Game over the airwaves.

This Year’s Series: 4-0-1 (Home 2-0-1) (Away 2-0-0)

Looking at the Blues: It starts with goaltending as any good coach in the NHL will tell you, and the St. Louis Blues are very fortunate to have two skilled netminders ready to roll each night. Halak and Elliott are putting up ridiculous numbers and have put up a combined franchise-record 14 shutouts.

Led by Backes, the gritty forward with hands of mercury, the Blues boast imposing offensive figures in Oshie, Berglund, Perron and Stewart. One of the biggest offensive boosts for the Blues comes in the blueliners Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo who have 41 and 48 points respectively (16th and 3rd in the league for scoring defensemen).

Looking at the Predators: The Predators capped off a much needed four point weekend with a thorough pummeling of the Chicago Blackhawks in the tune of a 6-1 blowout. Six different scorers on the night with many of them having 2 point nights as well. The big surprise was the play over the weekend by Matt Halischuk. This player never seems to quit and his hard work in the corners and his ability to sneak around in the slot creates opportune goals for the Predators.

Rinne is seemingly back into his earlier form by making countless game-saving stops when Chicago and Winnipeg were pressing hard. The more shots Rinne can see and the more ice time he gets, look for him to improve on an already impressive couple of starts.

For the Blues to win: The Blues pretty much have the Central locked up and are simply fighting for supremacy of the NHL and the President’s trophy. But, since the Predators have been dominant over the Blues for the entire year, the Blues may want to put a final stamp of superiority over the Predators and have them remembering who might be waiting for them in the later rounds of the playoffs.

Oshie has been a pain in the posterior of the Predators all year. If Nashville can’t find a way to throttle the high-octane offense of Oshie and Co., it’ll be a shooting gallery against Rinne with lasers coming from Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo and forwards like Backes, Oshie, Arnott and Stewart putting home the rebounds.

For the Predators to win: Clone the style of play against Chicago and use that the rest of the year and in the playoffs. It was a complete game, a full 60 minute effort that thwarted Chicago on every turn. Even when Chicago scored to make it 4-1, the captain fired a rocket that Ray Emery is still looking for.

Radulov has 3 points in 3 games and his vision on the ice is impeccable. He has that quick look to survey the field and doesn’t just dump blind passes to nowhere. Radulov also has the quickness and tenacity that will make him a nightmare for opposing squads to cover, and when they put two guys on Radulov, that’ll open up one of many that can put the biscuit in the basket.


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