USA TODAY Sports
With talk of the P-word creeping in, the Jackets look to make it 11 in a row with at least a point as the Predators come calling.
It's been literally two months since we've seen these guys, and tonight's matchup reunites the rivalry. For once, the two teams are headed in opposite directions and it's isn't the Jackets on the losing end. Columbus, as noted, has points in 10 straight games (6-0-4). Conversely, the Preds are limped, having lost three straight, and with just four wins in their last 15 games (4-9-2).
They also got the butt end of a rough travel schedule for this one, as this is the fifth game of a road trip, and they played Sunday in Edmonton. The Jackets have been off one more day than Nashville, and have been sleeping in their own beds. Columbus also should get Derek MacKenzie back tonight; he will take Colton Gillies' spot on the fourth line.
Nashville and Columbus are in many ways mirror images of each other: they've gotten good goaltending, they can't score, and they win games by wearing their opponents down. As good as Sergei Bobrovsky has been in March, that's how good Pekka Rinne has largely been almost all season for Nashville.
|2012 - Pekka Rinne||27||1501||10||9||56||2.24||653||597||.914||5|
The Preds are also battling a slew of injuries, including missing leading scorer Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, and Paul Gaustad. The Jackets have no sympathy for your injuries. Nashville will also be without Sergei Kostitsyn tonight. He's healthy; he's just a bonehead. More on that below.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(11-12-6, 28 Points; 5th division, 13th conference)
|R.J. Umberger||Ryan Johansen||Nick Foligno|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Vinny Prospal||Derick Brassard||Mark Letestu|
|Derek MacKenzie||Artem Anisimov||Jared Boll|
|Fedor Tyutin||Jack Johnson|
|Nikita Nikitin||Dalton Prout|
|John Moore||Tim Erixon|
(11-12-6, 28 Points; 4th Division, 12th Conference)
|Nick Spaling||Craig Smith||Matt Halischuk|
|Taylor Beck||Mike Fisher||Martin Erat|
|Gabriel Bourque||David Legwand||Bobby Butler|
|Rich Clune||Chris Mueller||Brandon Yip|
|Victor Bartley||Shea Weber|
|Roman Josi||Kevin Klein|
|Ryan Ellis||Jonathon Blum|
01/19/13 - Columbus 3 at Nashville 2 - SO
03/19/13 - Nashville at Columbus
03/23/13 - Columbus at Nashville
04/04/13 - Columbus at Nashville
04/27/13 - Nashville at Columbus
Head to Head
Nashville Columbus 2.24 (29) GPG 2.07 (30) 2.48 (8) GAPG 2.52 (10) 18.3% (20) PP% 13.4% (28) 77.9% (26) PK% 86.5% (4) Gabriel Borque, 9 G leader Vinny Prospal, 9 Colin Wilson, 12 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 13 Colin Wilson, 19 Pts leader Derick Brassard / Vinny Prospal, 15 Richard Clune, 53 PIM leader Jared Boll, 79 5-10-2 Road/Home 8-4-5 3/17 @ Edmonton, L 3-2 Last Game 3/16 vs Phoenix, W 1-0 (SO) 3-6-1 Last 10 6-0-4
- No Sergei - Sergei Kostitsyn will be a healthy scratch tonight for the Predators, after he (for lack of any better terms) gave up on a short-handed rush for Edmonton, electing instead to change "behind the play" as the Oil PK went in 2-on-1 for a goal. Check the link above in the Head to Head to see the highlight. It's pretty inexcusable.
- Who Can Score? - These are the two worst scoring teams in the league, and both actually have good goaltenders. Will these be another 1-0 shootout game? Columbus has gone to four straight shootouts (2-2).
- Special Teams - The Jackets' PK continues to impress, now up to 4th in the NHL at 86.5%. They've surrendered just one PPG in their last 13 games, going 32-of-33 over that stretch. They haven't allowed a 5-on-4 goal in that entire span. The Preds' PK is in the lower portion of the league, so perhaps the Jackets PP unit--still struggling, as ever--can at least gain zone entry tonight.
We'll know we're in trouble if the Predators generate 35+ shots like the Jackets' recent opponents have been doing. Can Bob ride the wave again??