Preview: Predators at Blues
The Nashville Predators edged Winnipeg and reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis by one point to win the Central Division title last season, but they now find themselves struggling to stay out of the basement. Nashville looks to halt a six-game slide (0-5-1) when it visits St. Louis on Saturday night in the front end of a home-and-home series.
The Predators have been carved up for 30 goals during their tailspin after surrendering five power-play tallies in Thursday's 6-3 home loss to Vancouver. "Right now, is about digging deep," center Matt Duchene said. "We have two huge, really tough games coming up, and there's no better time to get out of this and now. ... You don't want to let this get away from you." The Blues are perched atop the Central and own the best record in the Western Conference after earning points in 13 of their last 15 games (11-2-2) and winning two straight following a 5-0 drubbing of Calgary on Thursday. The balance of power has shifted in the series, with St. Louis winning the past four meetings after Nashville prevailed in the previous five.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Tennessee (Nashville), FS Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (9-9-3): Pekka Rinne has been a mainstay in net for more than a decade with Nashville, but he has been pierced for 18 goals during a four-start losing streak and was yanked prior to the third period in three of them. Rinne's goals-against average (3.06) and save percentage (.889) are the worst of his career but his 24 wins against St. Louis are his second most against any opponent. Center Ryan Johansen ended a 16-game goal drought Thursday but had four points in five meetings versus the Blues last season.
ABOUT THE BLUES (14-4-5): Coach Craig Berube shuffled his lines earlier this week and came up with a productive unit by shifting Robert Thomas to center between Oskar Sundqvist and Zach Sanford. The trio combined for three goals and nine points against Calgary after Thomas set up Sundqvist's goal versus Tampa Bay. "Good chemistry. Sanford and Sundqvist are hard workers and they forecheck," Berube said. "They do a good job at that and you've got Robby Thomas, who's a quick player and makes good plays. It's been a good combination."
1. Blues G Jordan Binnington is 7-1-1 in his last nine starts overall and has yielded two goals in winning both starts versus Nashville.
2. Predators F Filip Forsberg, held off the scoresheet the past three, has 12 goals and 12 assists in 25 games versus St. Louis.
3. Blues F Troy Brouwer, signed Wednesday, is still waiting for his visa paperwork to be completed.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Predators 2