As for the game tonight, the Blues played the first 40+ minutes like we just had a game last night. The Preds, to their credit, came out ready to play. It took awhile to get their offense going, though they scored on their first shot, a power play goal through the five hole by Erat that frankly Jaro should have had. After that though, Halak looked pretty good. The second goal I'd put more on Petro falling asleep (though Jaro was a little over committed) and the third was an empty netter. Between the latter two, the Preds had the majority of the great chances all night. They gave up quite a few shots - we had 42 tonight - but most of them weren't great chances, and very few were on second chances. Throughout all of Pekka Rinne's domination of us all year (and before), he's always given up some pretty juicy rebounds waiting to be pounced on. Unfortunately, the clamp-down style of the Preds defense really limits those garbage goal opportunities - multiple times tonight Rinne gave the Blues a pretty good rebound chance, only to see the
Now that I'm done fellating Pekka Rinne, the Blues did come alive in the third with tons of pressue, especially after Chris Porter's goal. Porter, BTW, was working his ass off like his life depended on it tonight. JK and Panger talked about how over the Break he went down to Peoria and played as much as 25 minutes a night. I could understand why - he was probably the best Blue on the ice tonight. Unfortunately, you're not going to get very many points on nights like that.
Although I don't think it's there yet, I'd really love for the Blues and Predators to have a real rivalry. We both play very similar styles, it's so close geographically that Blues fans regularly make the road trip and take over their arena - there were several times tonight that Blues fans cheering drowned out those annoying ass Tootoo whistles. This year, the Blues are 0-2-2 against Nashville, but without Rinne in net, we could very realistically be 4-0. Hitch says that they're the only team we've played all year that has ever outworked us consistently, which makes for a very scarey recipe should these two teams meet in the playoffs. If there's only one reason to win the division and get that top 3 seed, it'll be to make it easier to avoid the Preds in round one.
3. Chris Porter (1 goal; all over the ice; ignited the Blues so much we almost forced OT)
2. Martin Erat (1 goal; 2 assists; really worked hard in the Blues zone)
1. Pekka Rinne (41 saves; .976 SV %; just take a look at what I wrote above)
Central Division Standings as of 11:00 pm CST 2/4:
1. Detroit (losing 1-3 @ EDM after 2) 71 points, 52 games played
2. Nashville (W 3-1 vs. STL) 68 points; 53 games played
3. ST. LOUIS (L 1-3 @ NSH) 67 points; 51 games played
4. Chicago (idle) 65 points, 53 games played
5. Columbus (idle) 34 points; 52 games played