Three massive wins have put the Predators in a great position to steal third place in the Central Division from the Blues, who Nashville will face in a matinee on Saturday (March 12).
After a rough February, the Preds picked up wins against San Jose (8-0), Dallas (2-1) and Anaheim (4-1) with the skill of Juuse Saros in net, only giving up two goals. Saros has continued to be the backbone of this Predators team, with a save percentage of .925, placing him at fifth best in the NHL. He is also tied for fourth best in wins with 28.
Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene have also played some of their best hockey these past three games. They accumulated eight goals and 12 assists to start off March.
“I think when you look at this time of year, particularly the last two games, it shows how important 60 minutes of hockey is,” said head coach John Hynes in a postgame press conference on Thursday. “You have to be able to play in certain situations and stay with it.”
Nashville is currently sitting in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference with 70 points, three points ahead of Dallas and only three points behind St. Louis. The Blues are sitting in second place in the Central Division with 73 points.
Saturday’s game can put the Preds back into the top three division spot if they can pull off a win.
So far this season, the Predators and Blues share one win each in the season series. After Saturday’s game, the two Central Division rivals will face each other once more at the end of April, both at Bridgestone Arena in front of a home crowd.
The Blues have been anchored by the offensive prowess from Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko, who both have 55 points and 49 points, respectively. Kyrou has scored two goals against the Preds, while Tarasenko has only scored onece.
St. Louis has played four different goalies this season due to injury, but their two main goalies are Ville Husso who has played 23 games this season and holds a save percentage of .930. The other is Jordan Binnington who has played 28 games with a saving percentage of .904.
Binnington gave up four goals against the Preds in the season series opener, while Husso held Nashville to just three goals in a 5-3 win for the Blues.
The Blues have lost four of their last five, ending a four-game skid with a 6-2 win against the New York Rangers on Thursday, March 10.
Momentum is on the side of the Preds with a chance to get in second place in the division, but the Blues are still one of the better teams in the Western Conference who have always played their best hockey against the Preds.
A win for Nashville can keep the team moving in the right direction as the season winds down, but a loss can make their playoff chances much less secure as they will face one of the toughest stretches of the season later this month.
Puck drop is set for 11:30 a.m. and lineups will be announced prior to the game on Saturday morning.