St. Louis Blues Game 14/82: Saturday, November 7, 7:00 PM at Nashville Predators
As the St. Louis Blues face the division rival Nashville Predators for the first time in the 2015-16 season on Saturday, it might take some time and effort to get comfortable roughing up one opposing player in particular. That’s because it will be the Blues’ first time facing defenseman Barret Jackman, who was with the Blues from the tail end of the 2001-02 season all the way up to the end of 2014-15.
Jackman is second only to Bernie Federko in all-time games played for the franchise (803) and is fourth all-time in penalty minutes behind only Brian Sutter, Kelly Chase, and Barclay Plager. There was certainly a desire by many for Jackman to complete his career in St. Louis, but with the strong play of young defensemen like Petteri Lindbohm and Robert Bortuzzo near the end of 2014-15 (and now, the emergence of Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson), it just wasn’t practical for the Blues to pay Jackman the salary that he deserves because of his experience and previous success in the league. Jackman, playing his typical stay-at-home, defense-first role with the Predators this year, has one assist, a plus-minus rating of plus-5, and 11 penalty minutes through 11 games this season.
The Blues will look to be more consistent against Nashville this season after the Preds had their number through most of 2014-15. While the Blues played hard against Nashville every time, the Preds emerged victorious in three of the teams’ first four meetings (and both games at Nashville) before the Blues won 5-4 in a shootout in the series finale on January 29.
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Nashville is off to a solid, even very good, start this season, but they haven’t been quite as dominant as the Blues or Dallas Stars thus far. The Preds currently have an 8-2-2 record and will be looking to pass up the Blues in the Central Division standings if they can emerge with a victory tonight.
The Blues hope tonight’s game will create some stability in the lineup, as All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will return after missing 10 games with a groin injury and look to push the Blues’ all-around game to the next level. His return will represent a shakeup in the defensive pairings that allows for more balance across the three groups. Gritty rookie Joel Edmundson will be paired with Alex Pietrangelo, while emerging Calder Trophy candidate will play with Jay Bouwmeester, and Shattenkirk will jump back in with Gunnarsson, his partner for a large chunk of the time that both have been healthy since the start of last season.
Fourth-line grinder and expert “energy guy” Steve Ott will be out on Saturday after sustaining an upper-body injury in Wednesday’s comeback win over Chicago. With recently-signed forward Martin Havlat not quite ready to step into the lineup yet, the Blues will be utilizing all their healthy, available forwards on Saturday, with Dmitrij Jaskin and Scottie Upshall seemingly the most viable candidates to step into Ott’s fourth-line role.
Here’s how the Blues’ lineup figures to look on Saturday night:
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester–Colton Parayko
Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk
Head to our Blues page for plenty of news, opinions, and game previews and recaps.