The Central Division gauntlet continues tonight in St. Louis as the Nashville Predators visit the gateway city to close out the season series with the Blues. This is St. Louis’ first game back from the All-Star break, the Predators knocked off the rust on Tuesday night with a 4-3 win over the Avalanche. St. Louis stands second in the hyper-competitive Central, five points back of Nashville and tied in points with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Both Nashville and St. Louis have two games in hand over the Hawks.
Both teams have been on fairly solid paths over the past ten… Nashville at 7-1-2, St. Louis at 7-2-1. You cannot underestimate what a Nashville win in this one will do. Putting both the Blues and Blackhawks seven points back in the division will be huge, especially given that Nashville is done with both teams chasing them after tonight’s game. That makes the Predators that much harder to catch for the division crown.
Between the pipes, expect Brian Elliott in net for St. Louis and Carter Hutton for the Predators, but the bigger news may be a little tidbit of information we discovered on last night’s SlapShot Radio. Pekka Rinne is travelling with the team. No indication at all from the team on his playing status, we do know that he has been skating since Monday. Infer what you want, but this could mean an earlier return than originally expected.
The Blues have gotten points in every game of their home stand which wraps up tonight, recently acquired Marcel Goc should be in the lineup as well. Goc was acquired on Tuesday in a trade with Pittsburgh. Nashville has gone 2-1-1 since Hutton took over the net for the injured Rinne and seems to be getting the goal support needed to make things a bit easier on the backup netminder.
Tonight is the first of three in four days for both teams. Nashville heads to Colorado postgame for a return match against the Avalanche before travelling to Pittsburgh for a Super Bowl Sunday matinee. St. Louis takes off for Carolina then heads to DC for their Sunday afternoon game against the Capitals.
Game time is 7pm, coverage on Fox Sports Tennessee and the Predators Radio Network.
Here is yourvideo preview from NHL.com…
I’d like you to know about the Peterson for Parkinson’s fundraiser happening on February 16th at the Franklin Theatre. It’s called “Songwriters and Storytellers” and will feature performances from some of Nashville’s premier songwriters. Writers of hits for artists like Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean… just to name a few. For more information, including how to purchase tickets Click here. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm… it should be an awesome show for a great cause.
– The Predators are looking to improve on their rather pedestrian 12-8-4 road record, the Preds have dropped three of their last four on the road with two of the losses coming in OT.
– Boo to the NHL schedule maker, after tonight the Predators are done with both St. Louis and Chicago. I would like to have seen more divisional games late in the season.
– Keep an eye on the West Coast today as the AHL looks to be announcing a Western Division with some major relocations.
– The falling Canadian dollar is starting to raise a little concern with the salary cap. If the cap doesn’t rise… or heaven forbid drops, there are quite a few teams that could be in big time Cap jail.
– Wow… nasty one between the Penguins and Capitals last night. The Caps did a great job responding to typical Pittsburgh shenanigans and beat the Pens on the scoreboard and on the ice. Looking forward to the next two.
– Perhaps the rumors of the Los Angeles Kings demise have been over-exaggerated… Nice win over Chicago last night.
– Eleven games on the NHL schedule tonight – Bruins @ Islanders, Canadiens @ Rangers, Jets @ Flyers, Coyotes @ Maple Leafs, Stars @ Senators, Red Wings @ Lightning, Blue Jackets @ Panthers, Predators @ Blues, Wild @ Flames, Sabres @ Oilers, Ducks @ Sharks.
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