NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 04: B.J. Crombeen #26 of the St Louis Blues dumps the puck in against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on February 4, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
If you want to be successful in the NHL, and especially in the playoffs, teams need to learn how to beat constant rivals. Chances are good that the Preds and Blues meet up with each other in the first round, and the way that St. Louis has played against Nashville, the odds of surviving the first round could be slim.
Wednesday night's loss to the Boston Bruins was the first time that the Blues lost a game in regulation at home since October. Unfortunately for them, we don't have to look that far back to see their last regulation road loss: Sunday, at Chicago. Their road record leaves quite a bit to be desired. Instead of just the four regulation losses that the Blues have at home, they have 13 on the road. They're a well below average 10-13-3 on the road. Sure, the Red Wings are also below .500 on the road, but they have a pretty firm hold on the top spot in the conference. The Blues and tonight's opponent, the Nashville Predators, are in the fourth and fifth slots in the conference, with just three points between them. A loss to the Preds tonight bring the Blues that much closer to losing the all-important home ice advantage.
The Blues hadn't allowed four goals since a 6-4 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets way back on December 18th. Last night, a sloppy defense allowed a good scoring chances on Brian Elliott. Just because the Blues had more shots than their opponent again doesn't mean that they were all quality scoring chances -- against tonight's Nashville starter, Pekka Rinne, you better have quality scoring chances and you better not whiff on them. He's 4-0-0 against the Blues this year with a 1.85 GAA and a .937 SV%.
You also better have a good scoring chance on Jaroslav Halak to get a puck past him. Despite his outstanding stats this year, including six shutouts, he hasn't beat the Preds yet and has lost by one goal in two shootouts where he made an excessive number of saves for naught. He has a 1.69 GAA and a .933 SV%. He has a better GAA than the goalie that's undefeated -- that's how hard he's played, and that's how often the Blues've let him down.
Tonight's game, the second of a back to back, opens a six game stretch on the road for the Blues. St. Louis hasn't lost three games in a row in nearly two months, and now would not be the best time to try it again. The Preds are breathing down the Blues' neck, and a game against them at home is one of the most difficult things that the Blues have faced this season.