Blues forward Brayden Schenn (10) forechecks with Predators captain Roman Josi (59). (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports)
11/23: Blues/Predators, 7pm CT, Enterprise Center: Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN 101.1
St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Blues (14-4-5) look to wrap up the homestand on a winning note against the division rival Nashville Predators (9-9-3). St. Louis got their most decisive win of the season, shutting out the Calgary Flames 5-0 on Thursday. Zach Sanford netted one goal and three assists, a career-high 4 points in one game. “I just went into the game and I felt more relaxed,” Sanford said. “I think a lot of times, there’s stuff going on in my head and when I really focus and tell myself to go play, I just feel more comfortable.”
The Nashville Predators have hit a massive skid, going 0-5-1 in their last six and getting outscored 31-14 through those games. After starting the season 8-3-1, Nashville has only gathered points in three of their last nine games. Despite signing superstar Matt Duchene in the offseason, the Preds now sit third-last in the Western Conference. “Things aren’t bouncing our way right now, but at the same time, we’re not making it easy on ourselves either,” Duchene said, per NHL.com. “Whenever things are tough sledding like right now, you’ve got to do whatever you can to give yourself a chance.”
The Predators will be hungry to get one or two bounceback wins against the Cup champions, as St. Louis heads to Nashville on Monday for a home-at-home. Troy Brouwer, who recently signed again with the Blues, will not play tonight as he is sorting out his work visa. That gives AHL prospect Klim Kostin another shot at netting his first goal in the NHL tonight; so far, he has yet to earn a point through his first three games. The Blues and Predators face off for the first time this season, and will play three more times this season, with another home-at-home in mid-February.
Depth Players Step Up
After a resounding 5-0 win against the Flames, it may come as a surprise that top forwards like Ryan O’Reilly or Jaden Schwartz weren’t on the box score. The supposed “third” line of Robert Thomas, Zach Sanford and Oskar Sundqvist combined for three goals and 9 shared points. Oskar Sundqvist only continues to improve after his breakout season last year, scoring three goals in his last two games. Sanford, after just 1 goal and two assists in his first 11 games, now has five points in his last seven.
“The last few games, I think (Sanford has) been a lot more aggressive,” Blues coach Craig Berube told the STL Post-Dispatch. “More assertive in his game… He’s got good puck skills. If he keeps up that aggressive mindset, he’ll be able to produce a little bit for us.”
With the absence of Tarasenko and Sammy Blais, the depth contribution will need to be stronger than ever, and it looks like the young line of Thomas-Sanford-Sundqvist are up to the challenge.
Zach Sanford had his first 4-point game against Calgary on Thursday.
David Perron scored his 4th powerplay goal on Thursday. He and Brayden Schenn (5) are among the top 15 forwards with most powerplay goals.
Robert Thomas has 6 points against the Predators in five games.
The Blues and Predators begin the division rivalry on home ice tonight at 8pm ET. To follow tonight’s game, tune in to:
STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1 FM, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
NSH: FSTN, WPRT 102.5, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
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