NASHVILLE - Blues coach Ken Hitchcock expects more of the same when his team plays in Nashville at 5 o'clock today.
Three of the six games between the division rivals last season went to shootouts, with two of the shootouts taking place in Nashville. The Blues won two of three at Bridgestone Arena, outscoring the Predators by a small 7-5 margin over the three games.
“We're two closely-matched teams,” Hitchcock said. “We both have similar strengths, both have to kind of work to generate scoring chances, both teams go to the net hard. Both teams really follow a script of a certain philosophy as far as play goes.
“They're probably a little bit bigger than we are on the back end, we're probably a little bit quicker than they are on the back end. But both teams really rely on their forwards to do a lot of work. When your forwards are willing to work, it's hard to get any kind of gap on anybody.”
Before Saturday's opener, Hitchcock had suggested he might tweak the lineup for the Nashville game to get Jamie Langenbrunner into game action. But when you beat Detroit 6-0, it's hard to make changes. Thus, Langenbrunner, Matt D'Agostini, Jeff Woywitka and newcomer Wade Redden will not dress for this evening.
“We felt like if everybody came through healthy and we played that well, why change the lineup,” Hitchcock said. “You know, they're going to play. I think sometimes you start over-thinking, like you don't want to get guys too far away from it.
“But (Langenbrunner) knows the deal. He's a veteran guy; he knows the deal. And I think when he gets in, he's going to be a good player, and when he gets in he's not going to get pushed out.”
Hitchcock was asked, once again, about his impressions of rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored two goals on Saturday night.
“He's a good kid, I keep saying that,” Hitchcock said. “He's going to have his ups and downs here. I mean getting on a charter (flight) is a new thing for him, staying in hotels, knowing where to go … all those things are new.
“But he's a good kid. He asks questions. He wants to learn. He has a real healthy respect for the veteran guys in the league, which to me is so important. He's almost a throwback, to be honest with you, it's very impressive.”
T. J. Oshie knows what it's like to deal with a lot of attention. He sees something special in Tarasenko.
“Everyone has different roles,” Oshie said. “Some guys are happy with making solid defensive plays and making the right cycle. He wants to score and you can tell. The guys that have that talent and that drive in the league, they find the net.”
Defenseman Ian Cole had a strong game on Saturday playing alongside Alex Pietrangelo. Cole said his stint in Peoria has him in game shape.
“I felt good,” Cole said. “As far as speed, there's always going to be a speed difference. I played 30-something games in the AHL, but anytime you come up here it's going to be exponentially faster.
“So there's always going to be that adjustment period, I think. But I felt good for the most part and, obviously, the team played great, so that helps.”
And yes, "exponentially" is not a word you hear often around the old skating rink.
Redden was on the ice for his first workout with the Blues, who had a 10 a.m. skate at Bridgestone. Tonight's forward lines for the Blues will be the same as opening night.
Center David Backes with wingers T. J. Oshie and David Perron
Alex Steen with Andy McDonald and Tarasenko
Patrik Berglund with Chris Stewart and Jaden Schwartz
Scott Nichol with Ryan Reeves and Vladimir Sobotka