The St. Louis Blues (11-5-3) make their final regular season visit to Bridgestone Arena tonight at 7 p.m. to play the Nashville Predators (9-7-3) in a nationally televised game on the Versus Network.
The teams have played twice in Nashville and once in St. Louis so far this season. The Preds won the first meeting in Nashville 4-3 on October 14. Two weeks later the Blues blanked the Preds at the Bridgestone arena 3-0 in a game that started the Preds five game losing streak.
In the only contest in St. Louis, The Preds ended the losing streak with a 3-2 shoot-out win that marked the start of a period of improved play for the Predators.
St. Louis started the year as one of the NHL's hottest teams, going 9-1-2 in their first 12 games. Since then, as the injuries mounted, the Blues have gone 2-5-1, with the two wins coming against Ottawa and New Jersey over the weekend.
The Predators have played better lately winning four of their last six contests. They did lose on Monday to the Blue Jackets who played a near perfect game. I doubt that anyone could have beaten Columbus the way they played on that particular night.
It is expected that Pekka Rinne (6-6-2, 2.59, .916) will start for the Predators and Jaroslav Halak (9-4-2, 2.45, .910) will go for the Blues.
Both teams have injuries to key people. St. Louis is without David Perron, T.J. Oshie, and Roman Polak while defenseman Barret Jackman is expected to return tonight or on Friday.
The Predators remain without Matthew Lombardi, who has no timetable for a return. Ryan Suter and David Legwand are "day to day" with some thought that Legwand could return tonight.
One thing to look for in tonight's game is several penalties from the Blues who are last in the league, averaging 19.3 minutes per game in contrast to the Preds' 10.8 minutes. The Preds power play is 29th in the league with a 10% conversion rate and are three for 57 since the Preds first meeting with the Blues.
There should be a capacity crowd on had tonight, so if you don't have tickets, you may want to plan in advance this morning.
Other game previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Chris Burton, and The Tennessean.
For previews from enemy territory, check out the Post-Dispatch, BlueNote Zone, Frozen Notes, and St. Louis Game Time for Blues news.
I was a co-host on a special nighttime edition of RLD Hockey Radio last night that featured Jeff Marek from Hockey Night in Canada who discussed the Habs, Leafs, Flames and the situation on Long Island. Inside Hockey's Tim Rosenthal also joined with a preview of his upcoming Rosie Awards. Here is the full list at IH.
In Pred Nation...
AJ has all the dirt from the SlapShot Radio road trip including detail of Jackson and my misbehaving on the way home.
J.R. Lind has big news from the Predators at the Nashville Sports Authority's meeting yesterday. The Preds submitted their 2009 net worth statement and indicated that they would pursue the Frozen Four when the next bid process begins. They also indicated a new owner would be on board soon. You would have to speculate that it would be W. Brett Wilson.
Amanda Dipaolo has a complete look at what Shane O'Brien has meant to this team in the first quarter of the season.
Josh Cooper called Preds' prospect, Austin Watson for an update. Here's the result. Josh also looks at the Preds needing to improve on the power play.
Mark Willoughby missed yesterday AM's deadline with his Preds-Jackets story because he was late getting back from the game.
David Boclair is confounded by the lack of goals from the Predator's goal scorers.
Chris Burton breaks down Rick Nash's goal from Monday night.
From @SLakePreds: Dan Gendur (the placeholder/throw-in in the O'Brien deal) has actually be recalled to Milwaukee! He has 2g, 6a in 10 CHL games this season.
Seth Lake also found an interview at Hockey Spy with Charles-Oliver Roussel.
Bird Watchers Anonymous breaks down the strength of schedule for all teams and the Preds lead the way. It's an interesting list to ponder.
Admirals Roundtable has the story of the Admirals 4-1 loss to Oklahoma City last night.
Predators.com also has the weekly Admirals update.
If anyone is looking for pictures of Alexander Radulov, Hotice Magazine from Russia has quite a few. I'm sure Pred fans could put them on their dart boards.
Around the NHL...
The first round of votes are in for the NHL All-Star game and Steven Stamkos is not in the top three forwards. It must be a bummer to be the best player of the year so far and not have the local fan support to get you to the top of the pack. On an obviously slow day, Puck Daddy looks inside the numbers of votes cast.
Ryan Porth looks at six teams that have been surprises and rates them as contenders or pretenders.
Hockey 54 has a new video featuring Tyler Meyers and Steven Stamkos.
Matt Reitz takes an in depth look at what the NHL needs to do to move back into the big four in the sports world.
Demolition on the Spectrum in Philadelphia began yesterday. Here is a slide show of screen shots from the ceremony. Several former NHL players and others were in attendance.
With the Spectrum now gone, TSN asks what was you all time favorite arena.
AZ Vibe Sports gives the hard sell to the locals to go out and watch a winning Phoenix sports team.
Odds and Ends...
This is an unbelievable video of some folks that sent a camera 20 miles high with a weather balloon and recovered it. Jackson liked this.
This is interesting that a man ordering 178 pizzas in Amherst in the middle of the night did not raise any eyebrows. I hope they gave them to the homeless shelters.
A good thing about getting groped in an airport this weekend is the chance to pick up a new foursquare badge.
Fortune Magazine has an interesting post about Reed Hastings, the top guy at Netflix. The guy lives in Santa Cruz, California so you know he's done something right.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass