2011 Away Record Against: 1-2-0
All Time Away Record Against: 17-12-0-2
All Time Record Against: 44-15-1-3
In their entire history against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Predators have lost only 3 times at home in regulation, twice in the 2000-2001 season and once in the 2005-2006. Including an almost 70% win percentage against the Jackets, the Predators can claim ownership of one of the most lopsided rivalries in the entire NHL. Yet, during the last few seasons, this rivalry has seemed to escalate from completely one-sided victories where the Predators were able to pad their “Goals Scored” stats, to hard-fought 1-goal victories where the game usually ended late in the third or in an extra session.
Nashville, for all intents and purposes, ended the Blue Jackets season last year with their 3-2 victory late in February. From that point on, both teams literally split a fork in the season with the Predators taking the high road and the Jackets taking the low road, effectively making sure the Predators would get their 6th playoff appearance in 7 seasons while the Jackets would yet again miss the playoffs 9 out of their first 10 years. You’d have to believe Columbus remembers that game, let alone remember that they haven’t beaten the Predators IN Nashville since the last game of their 2005-2006 series. That’s right – 17 straight victories that the Nashville Predators have had against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Gaylord Entertainment Center/Nashville Arena/Sommet Center/Nashville Arena/Bridgestone Arena (5 name changes on the building since the Jackets have last won here)
However, in my opinion, that streak will most likely end this season. 17 straight is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, however I can’t see it reaching 20 games. I don’t know many teams that can put up 10+ consecutive wins against a single opponent, yet alone ever reaching 20 straight. If Columbus wants to rectify that situation, this season would be their best opportunity to do so. With the additions of Carter and Prospal to their offensive lineup, Wisniewski (although overpaid) to their defensive corp, and former Predator/Admiral goalie Mark Dekanich (who should give Steve Mason a run for his money for the starting job, if not snatch it from him), Columbus will not only become the “sexy pick” to make the playoffs this season, but could cause a lot of damage to their Central Division counterparts on the way there.
The Central Division, over the last few seasons, has been one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) divisions in ALL of the NHL, boasting at least 3 teams in the Western Conference playoffs each of the last 3 seasons. Could at least 4 teams make it this year? Absolutely. All 5 is a stretch, but Nashville and Columbus will most likely vie for a spot in the Top 8.
****FUN FACT: The Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference has sent at least 3 teams to the playoffs for the last 18 seasons (ever since the Atlantic Division was created in the 1993-1994 season).****
With what looks like a Columbus Blue Jackets team that could finally be finding the correct pieces of the puzzle, the Nashville Predators may have their hands full with their Central Division friends this year