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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

Nashville Predators (0-0-0) at St. Louis Blues (0-0-0), 8:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators will get their 2013-14 seasons underway on Thursday, as the Blues host the Central Division battle at Scottrade Center.

Although the Blues and Nashville are still members of the Central Division, the group is a bit different this season due to the NHL's realignment plan.

The only other team left from the previous iteration of the Central Division are the Chicago Blackhawks, the defending division and Stanley Cup champions. Meanwhile, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Winnipeg will join the Blackhawks, Blues and Preds in the division this season.

The Blues won three of four meeting against the Predators in 2013, but Nashville has taken three of the past five encounters in St. Louis. The last time the Preds visited the Gateway City on Feb. 5 they recorded a 6-1 blowout win over the Blues.

St. Louis is coming off a pair of excellent regular seasons, but the club failed to impress in the postseason, getting swept out in the second round by the Los Angeles Kings in the spring of 2012 before losing in the opening round to L.A. last season.

Playoff disappoints aside, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock has shaped his club into an impressive defensive unit since joining the franchise during the 2011-12 campaign.

The club's best assets are it's deep blue line and the goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, but St. Louis hopes the offseason additions of forwards Brenden Morrow and Magnus Paajarvi can give the offense a boost after the Blues finished 17th in the league with just 2.58 goals per game in 2013.

The Blues will go with Halak in net in Thursday's season opener. He went 6-5-1 with a 2.14 GAA for St. Louis during the regular season, but Hitchcock went with Elliott over Halak for all six playoff games against the Kings.

While St. Louis considers Halak and Elliott as its Nos. 1 and 1-A netminders, Nashville's goaltending duties sit firmly on the shoulders of Pekka Rinne, who started 42 of his team's 48 games in 2013.

Rinne went 15-16-8 with a 2.43 GAA and .910 save percentage last season and tied for the league lead with five shutouts.

Rinne and the Predators are aiming to get back in the playoffs in 2013-14 after missing the postseason tournament last spring for the first time since 2009. The 30-year-old Rinne underwent left hip surgery during the offseason, but is ready to start the season opener.

Nashville lost defenseman Ryan Suter to free agency in the summer of 2012 and the club struggled without Shea Weber's former skating partner. Meanwhile, Suter went on to a terrific debut season with the Minnesota Wild, finishing the year as one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy.

Although Weber appeared lost without Suter at the start of last season, Nashville's captain was in All-Star form by the end of the campaign.

Weber had no goals and only two assists through the first 14 games of last season, but he still wound up finishing in the top-10 of NHL defensemen in scoring.

Thursday's season opener will mark the debut of Seth Jones, the defenseman Nashville hopes will eventually help them recover from the loss of Suter. Jones was expected by many to be taken No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft before falling to Nashville at No. 4.

Scoring expects to be an issue for the Predators again this season after Nashville's offense finished 29th in the NHL in scoring in 2013, averaging a paltry 2.27 goals per game. Signing Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen to free- agent deals over the summer could help improve things somewhat, although Stalberg will miss the first few weeks of the season due to a shoulder injury.

Thursday's game marks the start of a five-game homestand for the Blues, who won't play on the road until they visit Chicago on Oct. 17. Nashville, meanwhile, will play Friday evening in Colorado before beginning a five-game homestand of its own with Tuesday's tilt against Minnesota.

10/03 11:01:48 ET

Other Stories

Schedule

Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Montreal 4/16 7:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay CNBC, CBC, RDS, SunSports
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Columbus 4/16 7:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, FS-OH, ROOT
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Dallas 4/16 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim NBCSN, TSN
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
TV
  • NASL: RailHawks vs. Ft. Lauderdale

    Saturday at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

Scoreboard
Local
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
12:35pm Today
CIN
PIT
1st
BAL 0
TAM 0
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
CHC
1:10pm Today
MIL
STL
3:40pm Today
ARI
NYM
7:05pm Tonight
PHI
ATL
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
CHC
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CLE
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
WAS
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
SEA
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BOS
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
KAN
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
TOR
10:05pm Tonight
ANA
OAK
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
COL
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
LOS
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
IND
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
ATL
8:00pm Tonight
CLE
BRK
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
DAL
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DET
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
HOU
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
LAL
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
PHI
8:00pm Tonight
NYK
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
BOS
WAS
10:30pm Tonight
DEN
GSW
10:30pm Tonight
POR
LAC
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR