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Game 19: Columbus @ Nashville – Bigger Battle Than You Think


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Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Along with a gaggle of their own fans, the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-13-2) make their way into the Bridgestone Arena for their first battle in the Music City with the Nashville Predators (10-5-3). Columbus, who have dropped 5 of their last 6 games, are having trouble in just about every facet of the game.

After coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to Boston on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets will be looking for their first win in Nashville since April 3rd, 2006.

This Year’s Series: 1-0-0 (0-0-0 Home, 1-0-0 Away)

This Season’s Video Recaps:
Game 1 – October 7th, 2010:

Looking at the Blue Jackets: Want to talk about a team that just can’t catch a break? Look no further than the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sitting in the lowest level of the Western Conference basement, Columbus is on their way to one (if not THE) worst season in their franchise history.

The Blue Jackets have gone through their entire goaltending corp and can’t find a goalie to get the job done, whether it’s due to lack of great play or injuries. Steve Mason is a definitive flop for the Jackets and newly-signed Mark Dekanich just can’t seem to find any luck at all, getting injured before he could start once for the Jackets and ending up on the injured list a second time on his way back from his first injury.

However, no matter how bad the Jackets look, this is a HUGE game for them. They haven’t won in Nashville in half a decade and every loss they take here seems to send them home more deflated than the last one. The last two Predators wins at home against the Blue Jackets sent them 1) spiraling down from a pretty successful season and 2) ended their season on a sour note.

Trust me when I say this: Columbus is playing for more than pride tonight. They’re coming out for blood

Looking at the Predators: Nashville has had a pretty successful November so far, going 5-1-1 in their 7 games so far. Pekka Rinne has gone 5-0-1 since signing his 7 year extension and is jetting his way to the top of every statistical category for goalies in the NHL.

Nashville’s top 6 group is on a roll, as well, collecting 22 points cumulatively in the past 4 games. The Predators seem to be finding timely offense, regardless if they are being outshot in nearly every game they’ve played this season.

Outside of the offense, Nashville’s Batman and Superman are leading the league in +/- and average two of the top 10 TOI too. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are continuing to show why they are the number 1 defensive pairing in the entire NHL.

As of right now, this isn’t official, but David Legwand could be finding his way back into the lineup tonight at the expense of Blake Geoffrion (via @Smashville247).

For the Blue Jackets to win: Play a perfect game. You think I’m kidding? Columbus played a NEAR-perfect game on Thursday against the Bruins, however that STILL wasn’t enough as they lost in a shootout. The Blue Jackets will have to get great goaltending from Curtis Sanford and they will HAVE to win this one in regulation.

Curtis Sanford’s stats all-time against Nashville are 3-0-0, 1.32 GAA, .941 SV%. If anyone has a chance on the Jackets roster to beat the Predators, it’s Sanford.

For the Predators to win: Stay the course. Nashville has been hot as of late, outscoring their opponents 12-6 in a 4 game span. Pekka Rinne has been hotter than hot with his 5-0-1 record since signing his contract. The main thing Nashville has to work on is to continue to try and get more shots on net than they are currently.

Rookie Craig Smith, who is tied for the league lead in points for all rookies, has had only 1 shot on goal in his previous 2 games while he had 6 against Montreal 1 week ago. Smith has to go back to his former self and pressure the Jackets net as much as he can. If Nashville can keep the pressure on the Blue Jackets, then the Predators can extend their unrealistic home winning streak against Columbus

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If you like what I have listed out here or if you have any questions/comments/concerns, feel free to let me know at kristopher.martel@thepredatorial.com

Stay frosty, friends