The NHL is set up for a really busy Saturday of action. Fourteen NHL hockey games are set to drop the puck on February 9. One of the games set is the first matchup of a back to back between the Nashville Predators and the St. Louis Blues. Both teams have been doing really well as of late and I believe it should lead to a close matchup on Saturday. This game will start at 2:00 PM Eastern time.
The Predators have put up a record of 33-19-4 this season, which has earned them the second place spot in the Central Division. Nashville is only one point behind the Winnipeg Jets for the top spot in the Central. The Predators have won back to back games and five of their last six. Nashville will look to try and pass the Jets for the top spot in the division with a road win on Saturday afternoon.
St. Louis has picked up their play a lot as of late and it has helped them jump back into the playoff race. The Blues have a record of 25-22-5, which has them in fifth place of the Central Division. St. Louis is currently tied for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Blues have won four games in a row and five of their last six. St. Louis is coming off an impressive 1-0 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Blues will look to pull off another win against a tough Nashville club.
Saturday afternoon’s matchup between the Predators and the Blues will be the third game of the season series. Nashville and St. Louis will meet two more times after Saturday afternoon on February 10 and February 26. These teams are meeting three times this month, which means that they should get a really good fell for each other. I believe this will lead to a good season series.
The Predators and the Blues met up for the first time this season on November 21. Nashville hosted the first game of the season series. Robert Thomas had the only goal for St. Louis, which was not enough. Frederick Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Austin Watson, and Ryan Ellis all notched a goal for Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped 28 of 29 shots to help give the Predators a 4-1 win at home.
The second game of the season series was hosted by St. Louis on November 23. Nick Bonino and Ryan Hartman each scored a goal for Nashville. Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, and Brayden Schenn each scored a goal and an assist for the Blues. Robert Thomas had two assists as St. Louis was able to bounce back with a win against Nashville. Jake Allen turned away 26 of 28 shots in route to a 6-2 win.
These two teams split the first back to back of the season. Each team was able to give their home fans a win. The Blues are playing really well right now and I believe they will be able to take the first game of this back to back on Saturday afternoon. These two teams will meet again on Sunday, which means they will both look to get their system running early on Saturday.
Nashville’s power play has had some major struggles throughout this season. The Predators have only been able to score on 12.8 percent of their power play chances. Nashville’s penalty kill has been doing much better this season. The Predators have stopped their opponents on around 81.4 percent of their power play chances.
The Blues have also struggled to find consistency on special teams this season. St. Louis has scored on 18.7 percent of their power play chances this season, which is much better than Nashville’s struggling power play. The Blues penalty kill has been able to kill off around 79.1 percent of opposing teams power play chances.
These two teams have struggling power plays, but St. Louis’ power play has been doing better. The Predators have found a lot of ways to score on five on five action, but they need to figure out their power play woes if they want to make a deep playoff run this season. Nashville’s penalty kill has been pretty good this season, which makes me believe that neither team will likely get a lot going on the power play.
Pekka Rinne will likely get the start in net for the Predators on Saturday. Rinne has been playing really well this season and it has led to a save percentage of .914 and a 2.47 GAA. In his games played this season, Rinne has a record of 19-13-3. Nashville will look for Rinne to step up to help guide them to victory on the road.
I believe that Jordan Binnington will start in net for St. Louis on Saturday afternoon. Binnington has stepped up in a big way recently, posting a record of 8-1-1 in his 10 starts this season. He has earned a save percentage of .931 and a 1.70 GAA this season. Binnington has been a big reason for the Blues turn around in the more recent portion of this season.
Rinne has put up good numbers over a long period of time this season, but in Binnington’s small sample size he has put up even more impressive numbers. The Predators rely a lot on their defense to help them win games, which means that Binnington has a good chance to slow down Nashville’s offense. I believe that the Predators could also give Binnington a tough outing.
These two teams are coming into Saturday afternoon’s game with another matchup against each other on Sunday. Both teams will want to come out with some urgency, and I believe that the Blues have a better chance to come out faster with the game being in their home. St. Louis is also slightly better on the power play, but I believe that Nashville’s penalty kill will neutralize it.
BetOnline has the Blues listed as a -110 against the money line. St. Louis is at home, but they are also on a long winning streak, which I believe will end to Nashville. The Blues won their last game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but I believe they fall down to the Predators. While Binnington is doing a really good job this season, I believe that Rinne’s extended success will prevail.