Predators At Blues Game Preview: Start The Homestand Right

Dilip Vishwanat

The Blues begin a four game homestand tonight, their last before the Olympic Break. If they want to accomplish their goal of being in first place by Sochi, they need a win.

Last night was the first game of a back-to-back for both the Blues and the Predators. The Preds, led by captain Shea Weber, came from behind and took care of the New Jersey Devils. The Blues puttered about and suffered a rare Eastern Conference loss 3-1 to the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. Jaroslav Halak played very well, but the Blues top lines just couldn't get much done other than David Backes' "was that even in?" style power play goal in the first.

Jay Bouwmeester pinged a post in the third, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Blues didn't really start playing with any sense of urgency (or recognition that they were participating in an NHL game) until the last half of the third period. This trend is frustrating. The last time I checked, a full sixty minutes was the best way to win a game against anyone in the league. It's a necessity in the playoffs. These guys know that, right?

As Ken Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch's Dan O'Neill before last night's loss:

"Quite frankly, we need our top-end guys to play a little bit better," Hitchcock said. "I think the Backes line has been OK, but they could be a little bit better."

"The combination of what Oshie does and what that top line does is going to have a big impact on whether we win the hockey game or not."

I'll go out on a limb and guess that Hitch wasn't happy with last night's performance. I do find it interesting that now the Blues' top guys are the top line and T.J. Oshie (or Jaden Schwartz - or whatever). I can think of a couple of other forwards who should be in that list as well.

And one of the forwards who does play his ass off and wins faceoffs like they're going out of style? Hurt, of course. Vladimir Sobotka is out tonight thanks to a very nasty injury last night. He had issues skating off of the ice at the end of the game, not putting pressure on his left leg. Sobe's listed as day-to-day.

The Predators are always dangerous and always a tough opponent to play against. If the Blues turn in a performance like last night's, they're going to be on a two-game losing streak to start the stretch before the Olympic break.

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