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Game 41: St. Louis @ Nashville – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


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Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Predators and Blues haven’t tussled since February 5th where the Predators took the decision by a healthy margin of 6-1. But oh how the tides have turned as Nashville has a 1.9% chance of making the playoffs and the Blues, along with Detroit, are starting to separate from the 9th and 10th place teams to solidify their playoff chances.

As Nashville looks to be playing out the string and being spoiler to some division rivals of making the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues are vying for playoff contention for the second straight year and to hopefully earn enough points to get to 6th place so they won’t have to struggle with arguably the league’s two best teams: Chicago and Anaheim.

The Blues haven’t lost a game in the month of April and are looking to continue that trend against a reeling Predators squad. The trade for Bouwmeester from the Calgary Flames has already paid dividends with Jay getting three points in his last three games (all assists). This compliment to the roster is formidable seeing as the Blues already have top tier defensive talent in youngsters Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo.

After a blistering start of the season, Vladimir Tarasenko had been sidelined with an injury from February 21st to March 15th. He has only scored four points since his return from IR, but before the injury he had 6 goals and 6 assists in 17 games. The early Calder chatter has since died down, but Tarasenko has been a terror for Nashville to play against. In the first game of the year against the Predators, Tarasenko lit them up for 1 goal and 2 assists.

Brian Elliott has been a staple of the Blues lineup this year with Halak battling injuries. Elliott was named the NHL’s 2nd star of the week for a 3-0-0 record and only five goals allowed. Look for Elliott to continue in net against Nashville, especially coming off his shutout of the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night.

As for the Predators, many are coming to immediate terms that this season is a wash. By the slimmest chances, it would take divine intervention or the most amazing turn of events since Florida Gulf Coast University to see the Predators make the playoffs. Since the trade of Martin Erat, the Predators have lost every game since (well wishes to Marty for a speedy recovery…even though no supplemental action was taken on Gudbranson). Now, these instance may not be tied together, but Nashville’s power play has been a lost cause since the trade deadline saw Erat and Latta go to Washington for elite prospect Filip Forsberg (0-7 in the last three games on the PP).

Rinne has played outstanding in all these games and tried with all his might to take the team on his shoulders and steal a victory as he is prone to do over the last few years. The problem in a nutshell is that there is no offensive pressure WHATSOEVER. The Predators got a couple standing ovations against Chicago Saturday night for simply clearing the puck out of the zone. The Predators let Rinne’s one-goal allowed, 29-save performance go to waste because Nashville couldn’t muster one single goal. Granted Ray Emery played a great game and made key stops, but the effort was to little too late as it has been much of the season and that is why the Predators are on the outside looking in for only the second time in the last eight years.

One last thing, Craig Smith needs a conditioning assignment in Milwaukee again. He has simply been a shell of himself from last year. He tries to do too much with the puck and ends up losing it to the other team at critical places on the ice leading to a quick transition for the opposition. Smith’s play is similar to the way Colin Wilson used to play so one can only hope that with discipline and a stint in Milwaukee, Craig Smith can find his game and begin to contribute the way Wilson did before his injury assured him watching the games from the press box.

Game time is at 7:00 P.M. Central and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on Fox Sports South. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.

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