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NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Predators vs. Blues (Jan. 17)

NHL Odds, Pick & Preview: Predators vs. Blues (Jan. 17) article feature image
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Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Vladimir Tarasenko.

  • St. Louis wraps up a five-game homestand on Monday night as it welcomes Nashville to town.
  • The two clubs have met once prior this season, with the Predators escaping with an overtime win over the Blues. Can St. Louis exact revenge?
  • Carol Schram breaks it down, below.

Predators vs. Blues Odds

Predators Odds +105
Blues Odds -125
Over/Under 6
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Two Central Division heavyweights will be looking to get back into the win column on Monday, when the St. Louis Blues host the Nashville Predators.

It’s the second of four meetings this season between the two sides, and it promises to be closely contested. Just two points separate the squads in the Central Division standings, and both clubs have been playing well over their last 10 games, collecting 14 of a possible 20 points.

In their previous meeting back on Nov. 11, Matt Duchene was the overtime hero in a 4-3 game, as the Preds handed the Blues a rare home loss.

Here’s why the tide could turn back in favor of the home side on Monday.

Predators Have Entered Minor Cold Streak

Since Dec. 1, Nashville has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 12-3-2 for 26 points in 17 games. And there’s no single winning formula for Nashville — it can win 1-0, or put the pedal to the metal and outscore its opponent.

In terms of 5-on-5 possession numbers, the Predators rank in the top half of the NHL, but they aren’t among the league leaders. They do stand out on special teams, where they’re top five on both the power play and the penalty kill. And while Juuse Saros has delivered some game-saving performances, he’s going through a bit of a rough patch, with 11 goals allowed in his last three games.

Could that be fatigue? Saros has started Nashville’s last seven straight games, and no goalie in the NHL has played more minutes this season.

Monday’s game in St. Louis is the first of a back-to-back set for the Predators. It’s likely that they’ll go back to Saros for the important divisional matchup against the Blues, then turn to David Rittich for their home game on Tuesday against the weaker Vancouver Canucks.

And it’s not just Saros: The Preds are coming into Monday’s game on a bit of a cold streak. After Duchene played overtime hero again in a huge win over the Colorado Avalanche last Tuesday, Nashville then dropped a 4-1 decision to Buffalo on Thursday before falling 4-3 in overtime to Boston on Saturday.

Some reasons for concern: Nashville generated just two power-play opportunities against the Bruins — uncharacteristically low for it — and didn’t score on either chance. And after long stretches of perfect penalty killing, the Predators have now allowed goals while shorthanded in four of their last five games.

As of Sunday, two important players are in COVID protocol for Nashville — sniper Filip Forsberg and defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Forsberg has now been sidelined for more than a week, so it’s possible that he’ll be ready to return.

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Blues Welcome Back Trio of Key Players

The Blues will be wrapping up a five-game homestand on Monday night. And while the club has been shorthanded, the players on the ice have (mostly) been finding ways to win by keeping the puck out of the net. St. Louis allowed one goal in three straight games to start the homestand, before getting torched for six in Saturday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

At practice on Sunday, St. Louis welcomed back three key players from the COVID protocol list — Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Colton Parayko. All three should be in the lineup against Nashville.

Logan Brown, back from a non-COVID illness, could also be a possibility. Pavel Buchnevich remains in COVID protocol, and it’s still not clear whether David Perron will be activated for Monday’s game.

Like Nashville, you’re not going to find the secrets to St. Louis’ success in its 5-on-5 possession numbers, either. The Blues are also in the middle of the pack in most key metrics, but they’re closer to the bottom 10 than the top. Their PDO of 1.017 suggests they’ve been a bit lucky at times.

The Blues may also need to sort out how they treat their goaltending as they head into the second half of the season. Jordan Binnington has the Stanley Cup pedigree, but he has allowed four goals or more in four of his last six starts. With just one goal allowed in each of his last two games, could Ville Husso and his 6.7 goals saved above expected get the nod against Nashville on Monday?

Predators vs. Blues  Pick

An important matchup between two good teams in a division where every point matters, this game should have terrific entertainment value.

That’s not necessarily great news for bettors, though. As we saw in Nashville’s visit to St. Louis back in November, there isn’t much to choose between these two sides.

Nashville can even counter St. Louis’s strong home record admirably: The Preds are a very impressive 13-6-3 on the road this season.

I expect St. Louis to get a boost from having Tarasenko, Schenn and Parayko back in the lineup. And keep an eye out for information on the starting goaltenders after Monday’s morning skate. If Husso gets the nod in net, that should further strengthen the favored Blues’ chances of delivering a win.

Pick: Blues (+125) | Play down to +140

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