Back by popular demand! It is roughly 6 hours until the puck drops in front of what is sure to be a tooth-gapped, banjo playing crowd in Nashville. Sorry if anybody found that offensive. But you may want to stop reading now.
So what exactly needs to happen in order for the Blues to hand the Predators their first regulation loss of the season? Let’s go through the list:
1-Don’t fall behind. The last time these teams faced eachother, Nashville scored :56 into the game and never looked back. Don’t give the Predators any momentum. They are confident enough when facing the Blues since they have won five straight in this matchup, all by one goal. Don’t give their 1,200 loyal straw in the mouth fans any reason to stand up and do a two-step. Barry Trotz’s team knows how to hang on to a lead. They thrive on playing with that one goal edge. Don’t give them the opportunity. They are not a come from behind team. Put them in a situation they are uncomfortable with. Like their fans bathing. That’s very uncomfortable for them.
2-Special teams. The Blues need to take advantage of any power play opportunities. They are 2 for 13 in their last 4 games. That’s not good enough. Meanwhile, Nashville has killed off all 14 of its shorthanded chances in the last 4 games. The Blues need to keep their power play simple, especially tonight. The Predators are very skilled (I hate to use the words “predator” and “skilled” in the same sentence) at blocking shots and getting their sticks in the passing lanes. The Blues must find a way to spot open lanes. Shots from the point must get through the traffic. Bodies must be in the dirty area to screen whoever gets the call in goal. Special teams is always a key component, but it will be magnified tonight. If the Blues win the special teams battle, they will win this game.
3-Nashville goaltending. This is their key. It saves them night after night. The Blues can not afford to make either Pekka Rinne or Anders Lindback look like Glenn Hall and Patrick Roy. Instead, let’s make them look like Roman Turek in a playoff game. Again, Blues forwards are going to have to pay a price and get in front of the net. Screens and deflections will be instrumental in scoring goals off of these two talented netminders.
4-Contain Steve Sullivan. For the love of God, please stop making this average player look like the second coming of Mario Lemieux. Sullivan has 21 career goals against the Blues. That’s his career high against any opponent. He scored 2 crucial goals the last time these teams met. Can Davis Payne figure out a way to stop this little rink rat? Speaking of rats, let’s please not get caught up with Jordin Tootoo and his absurd shenanigans. Keep your head up and ignore this numbskull. Let his wrangler jean-wearing, boot-stomping fan club give him the attention he craves.
So there you have it. Four keys to tonight’s game. Now for the most important element–game prediction. Call your bookies, put your measley 401K down on this. The Blues will win tonight. Yes it will be close, but the Blues will finally hand Nashville its first regulation loss of the season. Blues win 3-2, maybe 4-2 with an empty-netter.
Finally, I really should say one good thing about Nashville right? The ice girls! Yes, they do employ some of the hottest ice chicks around. Possibly top 5 in the league. Dallas, Anaheim and LA are probably top 3. That’s a story for another day though. Unfortunately, Nashville’s ice girls voices are deeper than Darth Vader’s. What, you actually expected this column to end on a positive note concerning Nashville? Fuggeddaboudit!
About the Author
Written by Dave Frederick
Dave has spent more than 20 years covering the NHL for a variety of different media outlets. Most notably ESPN, Fox Sports and the National Hockey League.