Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz doesn’t feel at ease with
his team’s spot in the Western Conference standings, but at least
the club has plenty of upcoming home games to help make its
The St. Louis Blues don’t have that luxury.
The Predators go for their first 10-game home point streak in
five seasons on Thursday night when they try to win their fifth
straight this season over the Blues, who open a road-heavy portion
of their schedule.
Despite Nashville (35-19-6) maintaining a three-point edge over
sixth-place Chicago with Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Northwest
Division-leading Vancouver, Trotz is far from comforted by his
team’s position. Eighth-place Los Angeles is just 10 points
“We’re at home here, and you’ve got to get some points,” Trotz
said following the opener of the four-game stretch at Bridgestone
Arena. “… we’ve got a little bit of separation from eight place,
but it’s not enough.”
Playing six of its next eight on home ice could help Nashville
create that separation.
The Predators have lost just three times in their last 18 at
Their 8-0-1 run at home is their best since a 9-0-3 stretch from
Oct. 14-Dec. 16, 2006.
Led by a goal and two assists from Martin Erat and 42 saves from
Pekka Rinne, Nashville pushed its winning streak in this Central
Division series to four with a 3-1 home victory on Feb. 4.
The Predators trail fourth-place St. Louis (36-17-7) by just
“Bottom line is we need to start racking up some points against
teams that are ahead of us,” rookie center Craig Smith said.
The Blues were hoping to make their third and final
regular-season visit to Nashville in 2011-12 on the heels of a
franchise-record 22-game home point streak, but that surge ended
with Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Boston.
“I thought we played really well that whole second period,”
said coach Ken Hitchcock, who is 0-11-6 with a tie in his last 18
games in Nashville. “We just couldn’t get that (game-tying) goal
even when we had all the play in their zone.”
The Blues will try to avoid their first three-game skid since
Dec. 27-31 as they open a stretch of 14 of 18 away from home.
St. Louis has scored two goals or fewer while losing nine of 13
on the road.
The Blues could begin this stretch of six straight outside St.
Louis with Jaroslav Halak in net after Brian Elliott, the league
leader with a 1.65 goals-against average, lost his second
consecutive start on Wednesday.
Halak, who has been fighting a bout of the flu, is 0-2-2 with a
1.69 GAA while starting all four games versus Nashville in
Rinne, the league leader with 33 wins, has stopped 147 of 152
shots in those contests.
He is 15-2-1 with a 2.19 GAA in his last 18 home starts, which
includes a 39-save effort on Dec. 17 in a 2-1 shootout victory over
Predators center Mike Fisher has six goals – tied with Sergei
Kostitsyn – and a team-best 15 points during the Predators’ home
point streak. Fisher scored in the Blues’ last visit.
Nashville is 11-0-3 when Fisher finds the back of the net.