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Predators at Blues preview: Can the scoring continue?

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The Preds have been rolling after losing James Neal.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Who would’ve thought that losing one of a team’s most prolific scorers wouldn’t cause many issues? The Preds are 13-6-2 so far this season thanks to a solid 8-2-0 record over their last ten games, and to no one’s surprise, Filip Forsberg is leading the team with 11 goals and 23 assists. Forsberg finished the year tied with Viktor Arvidsson for the team lead at 31 goals. With 23 goals sat James Neal, who was left unprotected in the expansion draft and who is currently playing well for the Vegas Golden Knights. Hockey pundits were torn after Neal left - would the loss damage the Predators? Probably. Would they still go on to be the team to watch in the Central Division? For sure.

The team that knocked the Blues out in the second round of the playoffs last year is in town tonight, and it appears pundits were wrong about both. The Preds are playing arguably the same to a little better so far this season than they did last year, and they’re not the team to watch. The team to watch just scored eight goals on a porous Edmonton offense and are one point back from the NHL leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tonight’s game won’t be as easy as Thursday night’s. Pekka Rinne is back to being one of the league’s most solidly reliable goaltenders, as he proved during the playoffs last year. The Predators also are bringing along recently acquired center Kyle Turris, who so far has helped jump start the Preds’ offense. It’s not to the same degree as the Brayden Schenn acquisition (isn’t it nice to have Tarasenko on a real top line?), but it’s pop that the Blues would’ve rather’ve not seen their Central Division rivals acquire.

Speaking of the Central, the Blues have only played opponents from within their own division a whopping three times, winning all three against Dallas, Chicago, and Colorado. Tonight’s game against the Preds may be the Blues’ first real test within the Central Division. The Blues went 2-3 against the Preds during last season, and during the playoffs nearly every game was decided by just a goal.