Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Sinking Blues return to Detroit

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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the St. Louis Blues will head to the Joe Louis Arena for a match against the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Red Wings and Blues have been very familiar opponents this season. This with be their fourth meeting together, meaning that both teams have dedicated roughly a third of their early schedule to playing together. However, after this match, they won’t face each other again until April 7.

When the two sides met on opening night, St. Louis embarrassed the Detroit Red Wings and earned a 6-0 victory.

“It was one of those games where nothing worked for us,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall told the Detroit News. “We didn’t do anything right. We were two steps behind and taking penalties. Our penalty kill was horrible and power play was dreadful.”

That fueled the fears of fans that the Red Wings’ dynasty ended with the retirement of blueliner Nicklas Lidstrom, but that contest didn’t start a trend. Detroit was able to bounce back in a big way and beat the Blues in their following two contests.

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Meanwhile, St. Louis is in a free fall. After a great start to the season, the Blues have lost five straight games and that’s largely corresponded with the absence of starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak (groin).

Brian Elliott, who was brilliant last season as St. Louis’ backup netminder, has a terrible 3.57 GAA and .849 save percentage in nine games this season. With that in mind, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has suggested that 22-year-old Jake Allen might get his first NHL start on Wednesday.

“Before he came up to back up, Jake was playing the best hockey he’s ever played in his life, so we can’t discount that,” Hitchcock said in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. “We’ve got to be cognizant of that, and Brian’s struggled. So sometimes a mental break for Brian might work too. We just have to discuss it and see what’s best for the goalie and the team.”

Regardless of who starts, you can expect the Blues to battle hard as they attempt to right their ship.

Probable goaltenders: STL – Allen (0-0-0, 3.87 GAA, .750 SV%) | DET – Jimmy Howard (6-4-1, 2.78 GAA, .906 SV%)

Top scorers: STL – Kevin Shattenkirk (1-12-13, 12 GP) | DET – Henrik Zetterberg (5-13-18, 12 GP)

Notable Injuries:
St. Louis – Forwards: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip) Goaltenders: Halak (groin)
Detroit – Forwards: Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Jan Mursak (shoulder) Defensemen: Brendan Smith (shoulder), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson (groin)

Predators survive Blues’ big late push to win Game 1

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The Nashville Predators’ 4-3 Game 1 win against the St. Louis Blues makes it difficult to use “perfect.”

You could get away with using that word, mind you, as the Predators followed up their surprising sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks by going up 1-0 against the Blues in St. Louis. Still, the ride was so bumpy in the third period, it’s probably wiser to focus on the fact that Nashville is unbeaten.

Because, yikes, that third period was a roller coaster for Nashville.

via Natural Stat Trick

P.K. Subban scored a goal and two assists in the first 40 minutes to help the Predators bring a 3-1 lead into the final frame. The Blues absolutely dominated play in the third, however, briefly tying the game as they put immense pressure on Pekka Rinne & Co.

Ultimately, the Predators received a game-winner from an unlikely source in Vernon Fiddler, gaining a 1-0 series edge.

Even so, few will talk about “mystique” after that shaky finish.

For one thing, both Rinne and Jake Allen allowed goals that they’d like to forget. Also, both squads experienced lopsided periods; Nashville dominated shots in the second (15-8) while the Blues almost doubled-up the Preds in the third (11-6).

Nashville also seems likely to play without rising rookie Kevin Fiala, who was hospitalized after an absolutely horrifying crash into the boards.

It was a weird and often wild – sometimes nasty – contest, with the Predators ultimately coming out on top. There’s plenty of intrigue heading into Game 2, which airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. (You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; here’s the livestream link.)

WATCH LIVE: Second round begins with Predators – Blues, Oilers – Ducks

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Update: With both games likely to run simultaneously, note that Ducks fans can watch on NBCSN in the Anaheim market while the game is also available via streaming links below.

In addition to that, Ducks – Oilers is slated to begin on NHL Network.

This tweet explains it in additional detail.

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The second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs is set to begin on Wednesday, and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with wall-to-wall coverage.

We start with a battle of the hottest goalies in the postseason so far as Jake Allen and the Blues host Pekka Rinne and the Predators. The duo of Game 1’s wraps up when Connor McDavid and the Oilers take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.

Here’s what you need to know:

Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues

Time: 8 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks 

Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online)

Video: Austin Watson takes a shot at Vladimir Tarasenko

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The St. Louis Blues and their fans showed class in how they reacted to Kevin Fiala‘s very, very scary injury during Game 1.

Still, these are two physical Central Division rivals, so you expect to see some nastiness here and there between the Blues and Nashville Predators.

One moment that will likely divide onlookers came when Predators tough guy Austin Watson got a shot in on Vladimir Tarasenko, at least briefly hurting the world-class sniper.

It’s unlikely to be a big deal since Tarasenko seems to be OK, but there may be some debate here. On one hand, there are those who believe Watson got away with a cheap shot; on the other, some seem to imply that there was some embellishment. Maybe it’s even a combination of the two?

Either way, the Predators enter the third period up 3-1, so St. Louis will likely ask Tarasenko to focus on getting revenge by scoring goals.

Blues just have no answer for P.K. Subban right now

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In the first round, P.K. Subban was dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks, but mainly if you look at “fancy stats.” There’s nothing wrong with two assists in that sweep, but those aren’t jaw-dropping numbers.

You don’t need to dig deep to see his impact on Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues. A mere glance at the box score – or a chance to see his blistering shot – and you’ll realize that the Nashville Predators defenseman has been a nightmare for Jake Allen & Co. so far on Wednesday.

Subban seemingly scored his first postseason goal with the Predators to make it 1-0, but Colin Wilson was actually credited with the tally.

No bother there. Subban gave the Predators a crucial lift shortly after player resumed following Kevin Fiala‘s horrifying injury, getting that first Predators playoff goal with another booming shot.

Subban managed to draw a slashing penalty on Scottie Upshall and also sent another huge shot to set up a James Neal goal. There’s no mistaking that P.K. has played a huge role in Nashville going up 3-1 so far; the Blues need to find some answers, and fast.