Saturday, February 4, 2012

Preds look to stay perfect against Blues

The Nashville Predators will host the St. Louis Blues for the second time in the 2011-2012 season on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena in a critical Central Division matchup. Nashville has posted a 3-0-0 record against the Blues so far this year, and they'll look to continue that success on Saturday night.

St. Louis is coming off of a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at the Scottrade Center. It was Jaroslav Halak's fifth shutout of the year, and it was the fourth time this year that St. Louis has won a game by a 1-0 score.

Nashville will try to rebound after a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center. Pekka Rinne will likely be in net for the Predators against the Blues after Anders Lindback got the start against the high-powered Flyers.

Each of the last two games between these two teams have been decided in a shootout, and the Predators have come out on the winning end in both contests. Games between these two clubs tend to be very close contests, and Saturday night's game figures to be no different.

The key for the Predators will be to control the play from the very beginning of the game. St. Louis will be on the back end of a back-to-back stretch. If Nashville pushes the pace for the majority of the game, it should play into their favor as the game winds down.

These are a big two points on the line for both teams. In a division as tightly contested as the Central Division, every point is going to count as the battle for playoff positioning heats up. Look for both teams to come out with a very high level of intensity.

My player to watch for Blues is Alex Pietrangelo. The young defenseman is third in scoring for St. Louis, and has posted five points in his last five games. He's a very solid defender, and has posted a plus-minus of plus-17 on the year so far.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Craig Smith. He also has five points in his last five games, and is providing an offensive spark from the fourth line. His exceptional speed and creativity with the puck allow him to get offensive opportunities that few other players on Nashville's roster can get.

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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