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Predators at Blues preview: Fighting for position

Baseball season may be beginning, but hockey’s not done yet.

NHL: Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals’ 125th season gets underway tonight starting at 7:30, but the Blues’ season isn’t quite over yet. As a matter of fact, they’re fighting for playoff positioning against the Nashville Predators this afternoon at 3. That’s plenty of time to take a break from reading season previews and pay attention to a season that, a couple of months ago, many fans thought stood a distinct possibility of being lost.

The coaching change to Mike Yeo lit a fire under the Blues’ collective ass, and they’ve been one of the hottest teams down the stretch. Unfortunately, it’s also that time of the year where injuries start becoming an issue. They’re 7-1-2 in their last ten, with a point in 12 of their last 13 games, but will be without Paul Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Carl Gunnarsson, and now Robert Bortuzzo. Stastny’s absence has hurt the team’s overall faceoff numbers; Lehtera’s absence has... been noted?

The Predators will more than likely be without James Neal, who was scratched yesterday for their win over the Wild due to an upper body injury. The missing offense will be felt, but the Predators have more than enough in the form of Philip Forsberg to make up for it. Forsberg is a noted Blues-killer; focusing some defense tonight on him may not be a terrible idea.

The Blues are 1-3 against the Predators this season, not playing each other since haven’t played since a disastrous 4-0 home loss for St. Louis on December 30th. That means that the Preds haven’t had the chance to take full stock of a Mike Yeo coached squad that isn’t distracted by the Winter Classic. The Blues also hold the tiebreaker in ROW and have a game in hand, which makes today’s two points even more key for the Predators. This game won’t be easy for either team, but this time of year nothing ever is.