With season on life support, Blues head to Nashville
Thursday, 04.01.2010 / 6:00 PMBLUES (37-30-9) AT PREDATORS (44-28-6)
: St. Louis 6-4-0; Nashville 7-2-1.
: This is the fifth of six regular-season meetings between these Central Division teams. Nashville swept the three-game series at St. Louis, while the Blues claimed a 3-1 victory at Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 27. The season series will wrap up at Nashville in both clubs’ final regular-season game on Apr. 10.
: A victory by the Predators will inch them closer towards claiming their first playoff appearance since the 2007-08 season, while the Blues’ chances at the postseason are currently quite slim. Although, mathematically, four wins would get St. Louis back into the playoff picture, the Blues will more than likely will have to win out the remaining six games on the schedule to have a legitimate shot.
: Riding the wave of a current three-game winning streak (all at home) is exactly the type of momentum St. Louis needs if they hope to sneak into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A 4-2 victory over the first-place Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday was also a step in the right direction, with winger Alex Steen
and defenseman Erik Johnson
boasting multi-point games.
: Two more wins should be all the Preds require in order to officially qualify for the playoffs and, judging by its last six games, Nashville is due for a victory on Thursday. The Predators have alternated between wins and losses since a 3-2 victory at St. Louis on Mar. 21 and were most recently shut out, 2-0, against the Kings on Tuesday.
"This time of year, it's tough to score," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said following the loss. "The last seven games, it's been 0-0 or 1-1 for most of it and there's not much going on in terms of offense. There aren't many inches, so you have to grind it out."
: Goalie Chris Mason has been in net for all three games of the Blues’ current winning streak with a 1.33 goals-against average over that span. Left wing Steve Sullivan has five points (1-4-5) over his last five games for the Preds.
: Veteran Paul Kariya is listed as day-to-day for St. Louis with a lower-body injury. Jason Arnott (head) has not played for the Preds since March 20, while defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (lower body) is expected to remain sidelined.
: Preds goalie Pekka Rinne needs just one more shutout for his eighth of the season. The current Predators’ single-season record for shutouts is seven, recorded by Rinne last season.
: The Blues need to win this game much more than the Predators do and most of the St. Louis players are aware that even winning out the rest of the season might not guarantee a spot in the playoffs.
"Obviously, we need help," said Alex Steen
after Tuesday’s win over Chicago. "But we do our part, and we're giving ourselves a chance."