Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preds look to continue dominance over St. Louis

The Nashville Predators will host the St. Louis Blues for the third and final time in the regular season on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville will look to improve their sparkling 4-0-0 record against the Blues so far this year and pull within one point of St. Louis in the Central Division.

St. Louis is coming off of a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. The Blues will be playing the back end of a back-to-back set on Thursday night against the Predators. So far this season, the Blues have simply been unable to solve Pekka Rinne. St. Louis has scored a combined five goals in the four previous meetings between the two teams this year.

Nashville is coming off of a thrilling 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Mike Fisher played a stellar game for the Predators, picking up three points on the night. Fisher, along with his linemates Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn, will need to continue to produce offensively for the Predators.

Jaroslav Halak will likely start in net for the Blues on Thursday night, while Rinne will almost assuredly get the call for the Predators. This is a pivotal game for both teams. If the Predators are able to win in regulation, they will be one point behind St. Louis in the standings. If the Blues are finally able to get the elusive win over the Predators, they will have a nice five point cushion on Nashville moving forward.

My player to watch for the Blues is Andy McDonald. Thursday night's game will be McDonald's first against Nashville since October 8th of 2011. He didn't play in the last three contests between these two teams due to injury. McDonald is a player that adds another offensive element to the Blues roster. McDonald helps to solidify the St. Louis lineup, and it gives them three lines that have a legitimate chance to score each time they are on the ice.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Erat. He has posted four points in three games played against the Blues so far this season, and also scored the game-winning shootout goal against St. Louis on December 30. With 44 points on the season so far, Erat is Nashville's leading point producer.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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