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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:46 am 
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A playoff spot will not literally be at stake in Sunday's game between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators.

What the game could help determine, however, is how long either the Blues or Predators get to stick around in this season's playoffs.

The Blues clinched a playoff spot by earning a point in a shootout loss at Colorado on Friday night while the Predators moved within one point of clinching a berth with their 3-0 win at home over Minnesota on Saturday. All Nashville has to do to eliminate Los Angeles Kings is earn one point in any of its final four games or have the Kings lose just once.

"Probably the biggest game of the year so far, and it's going to be fun," Predators forward Filip Forsberg told NHL.com about Sunday's game. "It's going to be really fun to go in there and try to climb the standings as high as we can."

What St. Louis and Nashville will be fighting for is positioning for the playoffs, with each team hoping to finish third in the Central Division. That would set up a first-round matchup with the struggling Minnesota Wild, headed for a second place finish in the division despite losing 13 of their 17 games since March 1.

Whichever team doesn't finish third could well end up as the second wild-card entry in the Western Conference, which would mean a first-round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Going into Sunday's game, the Blues and Predators are tied with 91 points, although the Blues currently own the tiebreaker. Nashville is one point behind the Calgary Flames for the top wild-card spot.

The shootout loss in Colorado left the Blues 11-1-2 in their last 14 games as they surged into the playoffs.

"Looking back from where we were a couple months ago, I think we've played a lot of good hockey," said St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves.

The Blues realize, however, they will have to continue to play well in their final five games -- in an eight-day span -- if they want to finish in the third spot and not simply be satisfied with reaching the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

"That was goal number one," coach Mike Yeo, who replaced Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1, told NHL.com. "We're there now. It's something that we should be very pleased about. Now we want to make sure that we're on top of our game and we're in a good spot when we go in."

The Blues might be banged up for Sunday's game. They recalled forward Kenny Agostino and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm from Chicago of the AHL on Saturday under emergency conditions, meaning a couple of players must been hurt in Friday night's game.

One player who definitely was hurt and had to leave that game was defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who suffered an upper-body injury. The team did not practice Saturday, so it was unknown which forward might have to miss Sunday's game.

The Predators could be without forward James Neal. He was scratched from Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury he suffered on Thursday night.
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Predators team scope

The Nashville Predators can clinch a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with one point against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. If the Predators lose in regulation, they would qualify if the Los Angeles Kings do not win later against the Arizona Coyotes. "Obviously for us, the biggest thing is to clinch the playoffs," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "Now we are that much closer." The Predators and Blues are tied for third place in the Central Division heading into the final week of the regular season. The Predators tied the Blues by defeating the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Saturday. Nashville, 8-3-0 in its past 11 games, has four games remaining. "We need another solid effort," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "That's a huge game [Sunday]. We've got to play like we did [Saturday], take it on the road and compete and battle like we did." Nashville played without forwards James Neal (upper body) and Craig Smith (upper body) and their availability will not be known until game time. After Rinne shut out the Wild, backup goalie Juuse Saros could start; he got his first NHL shutout in St. Louis on Dec. 30, winning 4-0.

Blues team scope

St. Louis has one game in hand on Nashville and holds the tiebreaker at this point with more regulation/overtime wins (41-38). "It's going to be like a playoff game," right wing David Perron said. "The atmosphere at Scottrade [Center] will be awesome. I can't wait for that. ... The fans will be a big part of it for us next game." The Blues have at least one point in eight straight games (6-0-2) and 13 of the past 14 (11-1-2). "We came a long way obviously here in the last month," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "There's going to be ups and downs. ... It's a big game for both teams here [Sunday]. We want to separate ourselves even more. It makes for a fun environment." The Blues recalled defenseman Petteri Lindbohm and forward Kenny Agostino from Chicago of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo left a 2-1 shootout loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Friday early in the second period with an upper-body injury, and center Ivan Barbashev blocked a shot with 1:05 remaining in the third period and did not return. The Blues didn't practice Saturday, so it is wasn't revealed if any forwards were injured Friday.

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala -- Mike Fisher -- Calle Jarnkrok
Colin Wilson -- Colton Sissons -- PA Parenteau
Cody McLeod -- Vernon Fiddler -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban
Anthony Bitetto -- Matt Irwin

Juuse Saros
Pekka Rinne

Scratched: Brad Hunt, Harry Zolnierczyk
Injured: James Neal (upper body), Miikka Salomaki (lower body), Craig Smith (upper body), Yannick Weber (upper body)

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Steen -- Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron
Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Nail Yakupov
Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko
Robert Bortuzzo -- Jordan Schmaltz

Jake Allen
Carter Hutton

Scratched: Petteri Lindbohm, Kenny Agostino
Injured: Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body), Jori Lehtera (upper body)


Status report

With Neal out of the lineup Saturday, Fiddler centered the fourth line, which he will do again if Neal can't play. … If Bortuzzo can't play, Lindbohm is expected to pair with Schmaltz. … Agostino will play if the Blues have an injury at forward.

Who's hot

Rinne is 6-2-0 and has allowed 14 goals the past eight starts. … Tarasenko has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) the past 13 games. ... Schwartz has seven points (four goals, three assists) the past six games. … Allen is 8-1-2 with two shutouts and 15 goals allowed the past 11 starts.


This day in history:
1939 Mel "Sudden Death" Hill scores his 3rd OT goal in one Stanley Cup semi-final series as Bruins beat Rangers.
1977 Bernie Federko scored his 3rd career hat trick tying the then Blues seaons record for hat tricks in 9-2 win over Cleveland Barons
1980 Wayne Gretzky becomes first teenager, at 19, to score 50 goals in an NHL season.
1986 Paul Coffey ties and breaks Bobby Orr's NHL single season record for goals by a defenseman with his 2 goale in Oilers 8-4 win over Canucks. Coffey the season with 48 goals which is still the NHL record for defenseman
1987 Doug Gilmour became 2nd Blues player with 100 points in a season with 2 assists in 5-3 win over Sabres
2000 Blues defeated Senators 4-1 winning 50 games for 1st time in franchise history

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:47 am 
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If I happen to see lineup updates before the game via Twitter, I will add them. I suspect they aren't what Louie listed with Agostino being recalled.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 11:38 am 
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Holding the tiebreaker against Nashville doesn't mean anything if they have more points. Better win today.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:08 pm 
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Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Steen -- Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi -- Patrik Berglund -- David Perron
Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Dmitri Jaskin
Scottie Upshall -- Kyle Brodziak -- Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester -- Alex Pietrangelo
Joel Edmundson -- Colton Parayko
Petteri Lindbohm -- Jordan Schmaltz

Jake Allen
Carter Hutton

Scratched: Nail Yakupov, Kenny Agostino
Injured: Paul Stastny (lower body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Jori Lehtera (upper body), Robert Bortuzzo (upper body)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:22 pm 
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Great kill of the 5 on 3, and then Tarasenko rifles one in for The Blues 1-0 lead!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:56 pm 
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Complete horseshit call on Perron that led to the Nashville's 5 on 3.

Refs tried to make up for it at the end of the period with a weak call the other way. This is going to be one chippy game.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:57 pm 
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Holy crap was that call on Perron horrific as was the call on McLeod.

At least the dive should draw a fine, because that is exactly what the league wants to eliminate.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:59 pm 
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:grin:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:14 pm 
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Steen knocks in the loose puck!!! Blues lead 2-1!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Nice goal from Perron out-muscling Subban.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Perron wrists it high into the corner of the net!!! Blues lead 3-1!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:47 pm 
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Kerbs before the penalty on the Blues at around 4:44 in the 3rd

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Looked like someone stole the refs whistles until now... tip that intern.


:lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:27 pm 
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Edmundson knocks in his own rebound!!! Blues lead 4-1!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:52 pm 
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Great super clutch win for the undermanned Blues!! Great play by the PK teams, killing off a 5 on 3! Blues should have 3rd in The Central, and probably a date against The Wild in playoff Series 1, locked up!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:51 pm 
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I don't want to grumble after a big win against the Preds, but Vince Dunn. I mean this guy is getting the Rattie treatment. I get that Lindbohm has NHL experience and every game is extremely meaningful right now, but what does Dunn have to do to get some NHL time at this point?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:30 am 
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glen a richter wrote:
I don't want to grumble after a big win against the Preds, but Vince Dunn. I mean this guy is getting the Rattie treatment. I get that Lindbohm has NHL experience and every game is extremely meaningful right now, but what does Dunn have to do to get some NHL time at this point?


Get better defensively, from what I'm reading. His offensive game is there, but he isn't "complete" enough. At age 20, he is far from getting the Rattie treatment. Patience. Now, if he isn't getting time with the Blues by 22, then pull out the Rattie treatment card. Not even Pietrangelo got regular playing time until he was 21 as they gave him two "tryouts" but kept him in juniors.

Digging into things, I've only found 2 Blues D that played full seasons at 19 for the Blues - Pronger and Eric Johnson. Only 20 year old I've found was another D from the 80s - Rob Ramage. Tryout D players other than Pietrangelo playing at under 20 - extremely rare.

Schmaltz first games - 23
Parayko's first game - 22
Edmundson first game - 22
Linbohm's first game - 21
Ian Cole first game - 21
the forgettable Jonas Junland - 21
Roman Polak - 20

That's 10 years back.

Blues defenseman getting shots before age 22 are rare and that's over multiple general managers. So be patient. Unless you go back the 74-75 season (when Blues financial problems were coming to the forefront) or the 85-86 season (thanks to the disaster of 1983)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:50 am 
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Big Win. The Blues actually looked better against Nashville than against Colorado the other night.

All our remaining four games are against non-playoff teams (Jets, Panthers, Canes, Avs). These games should be easier by virtue of the opponent, but with Nashville so close behind us, we can't afford to mail it in.

Keep it rolling.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:50 pm 
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The Preds now sit @ 91 pts w/ 3 games remaining, so the most they can come away with is 97. The Blues are @ 93 with 4 left. So if my math is correct, the Blues' "magic number" is 4 points. It's time to call it: the Blues are headed to St. Paul, MN.

The Preds are likely on a collision course with the Hawks, which they may be ok with. That could be an interesting series.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:03 am 
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For those that couldn't watch- here is a breakdown of the call on Perron that lead to Nashville's 5-on-3 and only goal of the game:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/invisible-snipers-strike-viktor-arvidsson-video-215625871.html

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