Nashville has had the Blues' number ever since they came into the league. Regardless of how good or bad both teams happen to be, the Predators always play St. Louis hard. Despite suffering through the growing pains of being an expansion franchise, they have manged to compile a nearly .500 record against the Blues at 30-26-12-2.
Tonight was no exception. Riding an early lead into the second period, they outlasted the pushing Blues and held on for a 4-3 win. I was without the aid of GameCenter Live due to the game being locally televised and was denied the locally televised broadcast because someone at the AT&T U-Verse center forgot to flip a switch until the third period. Add to that the slow upload of game highlights and no post-game video from the road as yet, and it makes it kind of difficult to write semi-knowledgably about the game.
Here are a couple points, feel free to fill me in on what I missed in the comments:
- At least the powerplay got going. T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund both tallied their first of the year on the PP and the Blues finished 2-5 with the extra man, a big improvement from the 2-17 they went in the first two games.
- Alex Steen is the Blues Toolkit. He plays on the powerplay, he plays on the penalty kill. He plays on the shutdown unit, he is expected to make chances for his team on offense. Tonight, in the last couple minutes of the game, needing a goal and playing at even strength, Davis Payne put him on defense. When is dude going to strap on the goalie pads?
- Speaking of goalie pads, Jaroslav Halak may want a couple of those goals back, but I didn't see any of the Preds' tallies, so I don't know if they were his fault or not, but I know that Steve Sullivan's powerplay goal was a defensive breakdown. Roman Polak lost track of him and he got open on the back door, making his one-timer a pretty easy goal. What I did see from Halak in the third period was excellent and I know he made a couple other fantasitcal saves before my feed came to life.
- Payne's coaching system definitely is trying to accentuate the skill of the Blues' youngsters. The Blues entire five man unit will rotate with the play, even if that means that the defensemen end up down low, which has happened multiple times in each game. I think opposing teams are having a hard time adjusting to it, but if the forwards who wind up on the points can be quick enough to get back defensively, it could re-define how other skilled teams set up their offenses.
Next game is Saturday in Dallas. Here's hoping for a faster start than we got tonight.