Nashville meets Columbus tonight in Nationwide Arena for their last meeting in the Great State of Ohio. So far, the Predators hold the advantage in the win/loss column after two spectacular come-from-behind wins at both arenas.
Columbus is resting comfortably in the basement of the Western Conference mustering only 31 points so far while Nashville maintains the 6th position while battling with the rest of the ultra-competitive Central division at 56 points.
Nashville needs to put the 3-0 loss in front of a large TV audience behind them and come out strong and get a much needed two points. Columbus is doing what they can to salvage what should have been a breakout year with all the talent bought into their system.
Which team will break at the bend?
This Year’s Series: Home (1-0-1) Away (2-0-0)
Looking at the Blue Jackets: Having a bevy of free agent talent does not always translate to on-ice success; case in point, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Having fired their head coach Scott Arniel recently, the Jackets continue a stagnant pace going 3-4-0 over the last seven games.
One of the main problems on the Blue Jackets roster is lack of defense, especially from the forwards. Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets with 32 points but he also leads the Blue Jackets in another statistic: -20 rating. Inconsistent goaltending also stifles any chances for Columbus to improve in the standings. Mason has been a bust and Sanford only shows glimpes of high caliber play.
Looking at the Predators: The Predators have to have a short memory and move on from the Rangers game that saw zero offensive output in a 3-0 loss. Not having Suter on the ice certainly doesn’t help matters as the team and especially Shea Weber seem lost without their defensive quarterback. Suter is reported to be out of tonight’s game also so the question is can Bouillon or one of the rookies step up to fill out the top defensive pair and help Shea Weber find his game?
Another head scratcher is Trotz employment of golatenders in the back-to-back New York games. Many believe he got the combination backwards and should have started Lindback against the Islanders and saved Rinne for the Rangers. Instead, Trotz went with Rinne for an assured win and showcased Lindback against the Rangers where some unfortunate tips and screens got Anders scored on twice.
For the Blue Jackets to win: Play defense like the Predators are known to play defense. It is up to interim head coach Todd Richards to instill some defensive play into the forwards and keep the Predators to the outside.
If Columbus can find a way to employ this level of defense, this will open up opportunities on the counter attack for skill players such as Nash, Prospal and Carter to work their magic. The secondary scoring can be dangerous for Columbus with players like Johanson (All-Star rookie) Dorsett and Vermette providing sparks from the second and third lines.
For the Predators to win: Take the crowd out immediately. Score a couple quick goals like they did against the Islanders and play solid defense throughout the game. With the absence of Suter and Smithson, the Predators are without two defensive specialists and will have to work to stay out of the box.
The power play for Nashville has been one of the tops in the league but in the last few games in has been feast or famine. The Predators have to take full advantage if Columbus goes down a man to secure two points. It’ll be a chippy contest as Nashville has crushed the Blue Jackets hopes for a win in their last two match-ups in heroic last-minute fashion.
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Stay HardCore, friends