The Nashville Predators are not having the season that they hoped for. After finishing first in the Central Division last year with a 47-29-6 record and 100 points, they were bumped from the playoffs by the underdog Dallas Stars four games to two.
This summer, star defenseman and fan favorite P.K. Subban was shipped to the New Jersey Devils for defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies, a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Predators then used that cap space to sign Matt Duchene to a seven year deal worth $56,000,000.
The Preds expected themselves to have firepower up front. They’ve scored 178 goals, just as the Blues have, but it hasn’t been enough. They’re five points out of the last wild-card spot and sixth in the Central. Both goaltenders, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, have GAAs above 3.00. Captain Roman Josi has 55 points on the year, but no one else has above 40.
Last year’s Central Division Champions may miss the playoffs.
They’re coming to St. Louis on Saturday afternoon for the first half of a home-and-home, and there are still a ton of good seats available for the matinee. Are they still the draw this season that they have been recently?
The Blues, current slump notwithstanding, are one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Their traditional rivals, the Blackhawks, are having another off-season and the spirit usually present between the two teams in their battles is very noticeably, and understandably missing. Last season, it felt like the Predators were the Blues’ closest rivals in terms of play style and vitriol, and if you look on Twitter during a Blues/Preds game, the fanbases can get pretty nasty to each other in a way that hasn’t been around since the Red Wings were still in the Central (and good).
The teams also don’t have any love lost, playing a hard hitting game every time they meet. The Blues are 0-1-1 against the Predators, losing at home 4-2 on November 23rd and then fighting back to tie the game only to lose 3-2 in a shootout in Nashville on November 25th.
Both of those games featured stellar performances from Saros, and the second featured a stellar 37 save performance from Jake Allen.
“It was an entertaining game,” Allen said. “I thought a lot of chances both ways and obviously a wild overtime. I think we showed a lot of guts here. We were down two, lost to them last game and found a way to battle back. Obviously we didn’t get the win, but we get a point out of it against a team that’s on the up.”
It’s hard to think of a game between these two teams that the word “entertaining” doesn’t apply to. Sure, this is a down year for the Preds, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be a boring afternoon at the Enterprise Center. If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon, head on down.