Nashville Predators At St. Louis Blues: Oshie, Sobotka Return; Steen Sits

Who here likes a goalie duel? Pekka Rinne and Jaroslav Halak shouldn't disappoint, while both teams are fighting for prime positioning in the standings.

It's a common occurrence with the Blues. Someone gets into playing shame, and someone else falls. Tuesday night it appeared that Kris Russell was the latest sacrificial lamb for the Blues, injuring himself in the first period of the game against the Detroit Red Wings. His loss helped the team crumble as the game went on, falling 3-2 to the Red Menace.

Alexander Steen, though, seems to have felt left out, as he will be sitting tonight and tomorrow with concussion-like symptoms, as per Louie Korac. With Steen out, thankfully T.J. Oshie will be able to work his way back into the lineup tonight, as will spark-plug Vladimir Sobotka. Jamie Langenbrunner will be making his return as well, now recovered from the flu. And, in unexpected good news, Andy McDonald's recovery seems to be chugging along, though there's no timetable yet for his return. A fully healthy Blues team with Russell, Steen, McDonald, Langenbrunner, Oshie, and Sobotka? Scary. For now, the return of the last three of those guys marks at least a return to intimidation.

Tonight's team is drastically different than Tuesday's, and they're playing a drastically different team: the Nashville Predators. The Preds are stingy, and when the Blues and Nashville square off, it's never a high-scoring blowout affair. The last time these two teams met, both Nashville's goaltender Pekka Rinne and St. Louis' Jaroslav Halak each allowed just one regulation goal in the third period before the Preds won 2-1 in a shootout. Each goalie has a GAA under 2.00 against their opposition. Like most Central Division match-ups, it's tough fought hockey. It might be tougher than usual because the Predators are just four points behind the third place Blues. The two teams fall 6th and 7th in the West.

There might be some scoreboard watching in St. Louis tonight, since the Red Wings are in Chicago, and still sit just a point ahead of the Blues thanks to Tuesday's game. The see-saw between the teams will probably continue throughout the end of the season, but what better way to ring in the New Year tomorrow night by being three points up on Detroit? When the team's resolution is to make the playoffs, that'd be a great start.

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