Ryan Johansen sends a wrist shot into the waiting glove of Jordan Binnington. (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports)
(Scroll to GAME PREVIEW to see notes on tonight’s matchup)
St. Louis, MO – The NHL trade deadline came to a close at 3 ET yesterday afternoon, and the Nashville Predators GM David Poile did not fail to disappoint with his “wild card” style of marketing. In the final hour of the deadline, the Nashville Predators acquired Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund in exchange for Ryan Hartman and Kevin Fiala (respectively). Simmonds, being one of the more sought-after players of the deadline, can be expected to play in tonight’s contest against the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center. Simmonds is 16-11-27 through 62 games played with the Flyers; Simmonds was drafted by L.A. in 2008 and went to Philadelphia in 2011, where he played for nearly eight consecutive seasons.
The Blues, despite rumblings about shipping off assets like Jake Allen, Robby Fabbri, and even the captain Alex Pietrangelo, were not expected to make too many head-turning transactions, if any at all. Doug Armstrong, however, made just one smart, non-committal move: defenseman Michael Del Zotto from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 6th round pick in this year’s upcoming draft. FSMW’s Andy Strickland sat down with Armstrong to discuss the move:
“[Michael Del Zotto’s] got a lot of experience; he’s a former first round pick by the New York Rangers. Entering the playoffs, you want to have a number of healthy defensemen, and we got word that [Carl] Gunnarsson hasn’t played in a while, as we know… so we felt it necessary to bring in an experienced player. I think this gives us a little added layer that we didn’t have yesterday.”
Armstrong also gave his thoughts on trying to land one of the highlight players in this trade deadline, i.e., Wayne Simmonds: “With the chemistry and what these guys have done, we felt it was a good year to allow them to continue to push… When you look at the trade deadline, I don’t think there’s a player we could bring in that was going to shift the dynamic of our team enough to push us to a favored status.”
Del Zotto has 1 goal and seven points through 35 games this season, split between the Canucks and the Ducks. Armstrong also noted sending Chris Butler, Sammy Blais, and Jordan Kyrou back to the AHL, suggesting that the return of David Perron and Brayden Schenn could be in the near future. Schenn can be removed from IR as early as Wednesday.
The Predators (37-23-5), after a 3-2 shootout victory over Edmonton less than 24 hours ago, will meet St. Louis (33-23-6) for the fifth and final time this regular season. Nashville’s victory gave them an extra point above Winnipeg to retain first in the Central division. St. Louis lost to Minnesota in overtime on Sunday, a game plagued with tired legs and sick players. Despite this, Jake Allen played a solid 60 minutes and earned his club one more essential point in the Central division, where they currently stand 3rd. The Blues are seven points behind Nashville but have three games in hand, and the Predators have defeated the Blues only once in their previous four meetings this season, two of them being home-at-home matchups during the Blues’ winning streak. The Blues are 10-4-0 in the last fourteen contests with Nashville.
Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, the leading scorers for Nashville, both have two goals apiece against St. Louis this season, but with Pekka Rinne playing yesterday, Juuse Saros, who has allowed 11 goals on 62 Blues’ shots, will get the start in net. Granlund, despite just being acquired from Minnesota, is not expected to start tonight.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly will look to get their club rolling again with a big win over their most competitive division rival in the past few seasons. Tarasenko has been hot with ten goals and 21 points in his last 13, and with his linemate O’Reilly have combined for 9 points against Nashville this season. The bottom lines will certainly look to perform against Nashville as well, including Robert Thomas, who has one goal and five assists in his four career games against the Predators. General Manager Doug Armstrong reported that Steen is also under the weather with the rotating sickness, calling up Sammy Blais from the Rampage under emergency conditions. With Allen playing in Minnesota on Sunday, Jordan Binnington is likely to get the nod for his club this evening. It is unlikely that Michael Del Zotto, the newest player to don the Note, will see his name on the lineup card.
17 Schwartz 90 O’Reilly 91 Tarasenko
7 Maroon 21 Bozak 15 Fabbri
12 Sanford 70 Sundkvist 18 Thomas
62 MacEachern 49 Barbashev 9 Blais
6 Edmundson 27 Pietrangelo
19 Bouwmeester 55 Parayko
29 Dunn 41 Bortuzzo
The puck drops at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO at 7pm tonight, ways to see and hear that puck drop are listed here:
FSMW, FSTN, KMOX, WPRT, NHL.tv