The road trip is history. It was OK, but not great: four points in four games. Certainly better than the opening portion of the schedule, but not good enough if the Jackets want to work their way back to mediocrity in the standings.
Coming to town tonight is the old nemesis, the Nashville Predators. Columbus banished the hellish losing streak in Nashville a few weeks ago, so now they need to end their losing streak to Nashville at home. After losing on opening night, it is a 1-game losing streak at Nationwide...
In all seriousness, Nashville has been in a bit of a tailspin since Columbus came in and won in Music City back on November 19. Going into that game, the Preds were 10-5-3, and riding a 3-0-1 streak. Their record since, including that game in which Columbus won in overtime? 2-6-1. During that stretch, they've scored three-or-more goals only twice, including the loss to the Jackets. Overall, they've potted just 20 goals in that nine-game span, and even that is skewed by a six-goal dump against Vancouver.
So, I guess what I'm saying is: tonight could be a night to take advantage of a struggling team. The Jackets need to come out, score first again (something they've actually done quite well of late), and suffocate the struggling Preds' offense. Turn the tables, for once; make them grip the sticks a little too tightly.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(8-16-3, 19 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)
|Vinny Prospal||Jeff Carter||Rick Nash|
|Derick Brassard||Antoine Vermette||Ryan Johansen|
|R.J. Umberger||Mark Letestu||Derek Dorsett|
|Derek MacKenzie||Samuel Pahlsson||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Nikita Nikitin|
|Marc Methot||James Wisniewski|
|Grant Clitsome||John Moore|
(12-11-4, 28 Points; 4th Division, 11th Conference)
|Colin Wilson||David Legwand||Martin Erat|
|Sergei Kostitsyn||Mike Fisher||Craig Smith|
|Matt Halischuk||Nick Spaling||Patric Hornqvist|
|Kyle Wilson||Chris Mueller||Jerred Smithson|
|Ryan Suter||Shea Weber|
|Jack Hillen||Kevin Klein|
|Roman Josi||Jonathon Blum|
10/07/11 - Nashville 3 at Columbus 2 - recap
11/19/11 - Columbus 4 at Nashville 3 (OT)
12/08/11 - Nashville at Columbus
12/22/11 - Columbus at Nashville
01/19/12 - Nashville at Columbus
01/23/12 - Columbus at Nashville
By The Numbers
NSH - 2.59 G/G (17th)
CBJ - 2.33 G/G (26th)
NSH - 2.70 GA/G (t14th)
CBJ - 3.22 GA/G (t27th)
NSH - 19.4% (9th)
CBJ - 12.5% (27th)
NSH - 83.7% (12th)
CBJ - 76.1% (28th)
- For Those About to Goon... - You may be disappointed. Noted ass-hat Jordin Tootoo is out for this game, serving his two-game suspension for running Ryan Miller. I'm not sure what Ryan Miller did to earn repeated beat-downs from opposing forwards, but he might want to reconsider.
- Top-6 Shake-up - Derick Brassard looks to be drawing back in, and in the top-6 to boot. With Kristian Huselius back out with a groin injury, Vinny Prospal moves back up. Brassard takes Prospal's spot on the second line, but the other move is that Antoine Vermette is moving up to that line as well. The Three Centers will be interesting; Porty Tweeted that Vermette is going to take draws, and then drift back to the wing while Brassard plays in the middle. Odd.
- Holy Crap - The top pairing of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber is on pace for a face-melting number of points. Between them, they have 11 goals and 26 assists. They are third and fourth on their team in total points. Yikes! Weber and Suter have a combined seven Power Play goals on the season, which leads nicely into...
- Special Teams - Nashville is struggling to score, but their PP unit is still dangerous; they scored two PPGs against the Jackets back on 11/19 in the loss, and have scored 10 of their 20 goals in this last stretch on the man advantage. While the CBJ PK has been better of late (18 of their last 20 killed off), they cannot afford to give the Predators extra chances to score on the PP. For a team that's having a horrendous time scoring at even strength, you can't play into their hands and give them free shots at you. Those 20 times shorthanded for Columbus span eight games (21 times total), which is 2.5 penalties a game. That discipline has to continue.
Seems to me the time is right for a winning streak against the Preds. If the Jackets can find a way to get three goals, I like their chances. And honestly, who doesn't want free chili?? At the end of the night, a regulation win for Columbus would close the gap in the division to [gulp] only seven points.