Apologies for missing the last few road games - things suck sometimes.
One of those things was losing in Minnesota the other night. But the good news is that the Blues are on a pretty consistent streak, with points in 10 of their last 13. Sure they sitting in second place in the central behind Those Fuckers Up North, and yeah that hot streak has hit a bit of a snag with 3 losses in the last 6, but overall the Blues are very much trending in the right direction.
Now that we're approaching 30 games into the season, you can start to look at the bulk of the fancy stats to show how good things seem to be going. With enough sample size to start to draw judgments from, the Note find themselves sitting 4th in the league in FF% at 5on5 with 53.5%, behind only Boston, LA, and Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, their PDO at 5on5 is sitting well below average at 98.7. Looking at those two figures together would seem to indicate that final 2/3rds of the Blues season could be a really fun ride.
On the flip side, tonight's enemies seem to be going in the exact opposite direction. The Predators sit in 5th in the central and 9th in the west with 28 points, having lost 5 of their last 7 - 3 of which they lost by 3 goals. The Blues have three different players who would be Nashville's leading scorer (albeit one by way of tiebreaker), and the Preds peripheries don't look too much rosier - they're generating shot attempts at a decent enough rate (51.8% at 5on5), but their shooting percentage is a pretty reasonable 8.97%, and their even strength PDO of 100.2 doesn't scream "hot streak a'comin'!" With or without making the postseason, this may end up being a mulligan year in Smashville.
For tonight, if trends are going to continue as they have, the Blues need to just get the puck into the hot hands - who conveniently enough, should be all on the same line tonight. Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and most of all lately, Robby Fabbri - he of 5 points in his last 3 games. Mere written words cannot properly communicate to you how excited I am to see these three together for (hopefully) an entire game! I wish the three of them were roped together at the hips and never separated on the ice again...they should be Together Wherever [they] Go!
TONIGHT'S PERFORMANCE: @ the Nashville Predators
CURTAIN TIME: 7:00pm central
BROADCAST OPTIONS: Fox Sports Midwest (TV); 1120am KMOX (radio)
CENTRAL CHARACTER: LW Alexander Steen - Call it hubris, but I feel like the Fabbri-Schwartz-Tarasenko line is going to produce like they should - maybe not on the score sheet, but they're going to get their chances. But with them all together, production down the lineup will be key. That's where Steener comes in. Quietly since coming back from injury, he's racked up 6 points in 6 games (though to be fair, 3 of those were in one game). But for the guy who has for such a long time had a Nose for getting pucks going away from his goal, Steen's Corsi For at 5on5 is a lowly 48.5%, 2nd worst among Blues forwards. Not exactly a good sign for a dude who just signed an extension, but for now he has to step his game up if the Blues are going to have the success they want.
MAIN ANTAGONIST: D Roman Josi - PK Subban and Shea Weber before him may have gotten all the Smashville headlines, but Roman Josi might be the most underrated blueliner in the NHL. So far this year he has 5-12-17 scoreline with a CF% of 53.5%. Expect to see a lot of him against SchwartzFabSenko.
PLAYBILL: Check out On the Forecheck for everything you'd ever need to Herd about Perd.
Better late than never I suppose, huh? Should be a Game Day Thread up soon, if not already. And hey, you got all your holiday shopping done? Any nightmare stories from the mall? Or did you just buy everything online while you weren't wearing any pants? Also, we're only 13 days away from the World Juniors - are you as excited as I am? Answer: no. No you are not.