Eighty-one games in the book for the Nashville Predators (44-26-11) and it all comes down to the final game in St. Louis (37-33-11) at the Scottrade Center tonight at 7 p.m.
Although the Blues have been eliminated, they will not lay down for the Predators. They are 5-3-2 in their last ten and have played well lately. Whenever these two teams meet there is always bad blood. The Blues lead the season series 3-2.
The teams have not played since the December waiver interception by the Preds of Marek Svatos from the Blues who had negotiated the contract. Svatos was later released. That was a real sticking pint with the Blues at the time who were trying to make a run for the playoffs.
The teams have played three times in Nashville and twice 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. On November 24, the Blues won 2-1 in a shootout.
In the two prior contests in St. Louis, The Preds ended a losing streak with a 3-2 shoot-out win on November 11 that marked the start of a period of improved play for the Predators. On December 26, the Blues extended another Preds losing streak to four games with a 2-0 win in a shut out by Jaroslav Halak.
The Predators are still battling injuries. Josh Cooper indicated that Marty Erat was not on the trip and that Steve Sullivan will not play after his return last night. Cal O'reilly may return from his broken leg tonight.
After keeping his thoughts close to the vest, Barry Trotz told Cooper that he would go with Pekka Rinne (33-21-9, 2.12, .930) in net again tonight. The Blues are expected to go with Jaroslav Halak (26-21-7, 2.52, .909).
The Predators start the game in fourth place with 99 points. With a regulation or overtime win they will claim fourth regardless of anything else that happens. Any other result opens the door for the team to finish anywhere from fourth to seventh. The only playoff bound team that the cannot play in the first round based on this is Vancouver (or Dallas if they finish eight).
The earliest their next game could be is next Wednesday.
Other previews come from Amanda DiPaolo, Paul McCann, Dirk Hoag, The Tennessean, and Predators.com.
Previews from St. Louis come from the Post-Dispatch, BlueNote Zone, Frozen Notes, and St. Louis Game Time.
Here is the full game preview from NHL Media Services.
Predators- Jackets Wrap-Up...
Here is our game story from last night with Post game video. We also had a video of Blake Geoffrion's first NHL fight and his reaction.
Bryan Mullins had his game story and notes column. Josh Cooper has his postgame ponderings.
Jim Diamond touches on Blake Geoffrion's first NHL fight in the Preds win over Columbus.
David Boclair has his story at The City Paper with a focus on unfinished business.
From the blog world reports come from Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, Mark Willoughby, Jeremy Gover, Marc Torrrence, Predatorial, Fang Faction, and Hockey Night in Nashville.
The other side of the story from Ohio comes from the Columbus Dispatch, The Dark Blue Jacket, and The Cannon.
Audio from the Predators comes from Steve Sullivan, Sully part two, Pekka Rinne, and Patric Hornqvist. From Columbus we here from Coach Scott Arniel, Derick Brassard, and Marc Methot.
In Pred Nation...
I just fell out of my chair. Eric Duhatschek has the Preds bringing home the Vezina, Norris, and Adams Awards at the Globe and Mail.
Great news from @JoshuaCooper: The Nashville PHWA chapter is proud to announce Shane O'Brien as the winner of our inaugural Media Recognition Award. The award is given to the most accessible player who speaks in the fewest cliches. From what I understand, Shane was thrilled to death about the award and his acceptance to the Nashville community.
Jeremy Gover has the story about the new Cellblock 303 sign that debuted at last night's game.
The Milwaukee Admirals lost 3-2 to Texas last night to extend their losing streak to three games.
Around the NHL...
Ryan at the RLD has the top five Stanley Cup contenders and pretenders.
Adam Foote shares his thoughts on his retirement announced yesterday.
Adrian Dater got with Brad Richards to discuss his cloudy future in Dallas.
Craig Custance has a look at big changes coming to the NHL network for their post-season coverage.
The Hockey News picks their Hart Trophy finalists.
Illegal Curve has the Winnipeg view of franchises in trouble.
Is Dan Ellis this year's Antti Niemi?
Vintage Leaf Memories contemplates the best goal Gordie Howe ever scored.
The NCAA Frozen Four comes to a conclusion today with Michigan facing off against Minnesota-Deluth at the Xcel Energy Center.
Brian Murray received a three year extension as GM in Ottawa.
Steve Lapore has all the numbers for Versus telecasts for the past season.
Odds and Ends...
Here's a clip where Will Ferrell introduces himself to the staff on "The Office."
Is Verizon fixing to offer at $50 unlimited, month to month plan?
USA Today writers may start getting bonuses based on page views. Now they will get to see how the other half lives maybe.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass