Game Preview #32 - Ocean's Thirteen

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Right back at it, and back on the road! The Jackets' quest for a fourth straight win and 13th straight game with at least a point brings them to Nashville. DARTH VADER!

Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators

March 23, 2013 - 8:00pm EDT
Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: On the Forecheck
SBNation Game Page

Alright, I'll admit it: much like Neo in The Matrix, I'm beginning to believe. Last night in the early second period, I was sure Calgary was about to take control. They'd tied the game up, rang a shot off the post, and were pretty much having their way in the Columbus zone. And then, 75 seconds later, as Todd Richards said, "The game was over."

There's something about this team that I just can't quantify. In years-past, when another team began to impose their will as Calgary was doing, the Jackets would fold up shop. Not these guys. They have heart and pride the likes of which we haven't seen. Sergei Bobrovsky is as hot as any goalie we've ever had. They are getting puck-luck and bounces right now that they've literally never before gotten for stretches of this length.

At some point, you have to stop pointing to the stats and the quantifiable, and start thinking that there's just *something* going on here. My stats/team projection Bible--Sports Club Stats--is beginning to believe, too: the Jackets jumped up to 10th in their Western Conference projections at 21.8%.

Now, their final hurdle: a road trip. The Jackets took care of their business over this stretch. They played 10 of 12 at home, and in that 12-game stretch they went 8-0-4. That said, their road record to this point hasn't been inspiring: 3-8-1, and if you factor out this past stretch they were 2-8-0 prior. One of those wins, however, was against these Predators on opening night.

Columbus, of course, played last night. But, both of these teams will have to remember Tuesday's game: the Predators for their late surge to almost tie it up at the end, and the Jackets for relaxing just a bit too early.

Steve Mason may never get to play again. Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start again tonight, his ninth straight start. Patric Hornqvist will be a game-time decision for Nashville. The Jackets will again be without Brandon Dubinsky.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(13-12-6, 32 Points; 4th division, 9th conference)

R.J. Umberger Ryan Johansen Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert Artem Anisimov Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Mark Letestu
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Nikita Nikitin Dalton Prout
Tim Erixon John Moore
Sergei Bobrovsky
Steve Mason

Nashville Predators
(12-13-6, 30 Points; 5th Division, 12th Conference)

Sergei Kostitsyn Mike Fisher Martin Erat
Taylor Beck Craig Smith Matt Halischuk
Gabriel Bourque David Legwand Nick Spaling
Rich Clune Chris Mueller Brandon Yip
Roman Josi Shea Weber
Victor Bartley Kevin Klein
Ryan Ellis Hal Gill
Pekka Rinne
Chris Mason

Season Series

01/19/13 - Columbus 3 at Nashville 2 - SO
03/19/13 - Nashville 3 at Columbus 4
03/23/13 - Columbus at Nashville
04/04/13 - Columbus at Nashville
04/27/13 - Nashville at Columbus

Head to Head

Nashville Columbus
2.36 (27) GPG 2.23 (30)
2.55 (11) GAPG 2.48 (9)
18.4% (17) PP% 13.4% (28)
77.2% (28) PK% 86.9% (3)
Gabriel Borque, 10 G leader Vinny Prospal, 9
Shea Weber, 13 A leader Fedor Tyutin, 14
Colin Wilson, 19 Pts leader Vinny Prospal, 18
Richard Clune, 62 PIM leader Jared Boll, 79
7-2-4 Home/Road 3-8-1
3/21 vs Calgary, W 5-3 Last Game 3/22 vs Calgary, W 5-1
3-6-1 Last 10 7-0-3
    Game Notes
  • Who Can Score? - These two teams have been near the bottom of the league in scoring all year. However, in their last two games, they have a combined 17 goals (4 and 5 for Columbus, 3 and 5 for Nashville). Were it not for the last minute let-down, the Jackets would have kept Nashville in check Tuesday.
  • No Dubi - The Jackets will be without Brandon Dubinsky again tonight, and have recalled Sean Collins from Springfield on an emergency basis for the four-game road trip.

Who to Root For?

I'm willing to start keeping track of this. Here are today's Western Conference games, with the teams that need to win to most help Columbus in their playoff quest. Thanks to Sports Club Stats for the info!
Nashville vs. Columbus (+8.1%)
Minnesota vs. San Jose (+0.8%)
Edmonton vs. St. Louis (either is +0.1% with a regulation win)
Los Angeles vs. Vancouver (+0.2%)

This is the kickoff to a four-game road trip that includes a Western Canada trip. It's time for the Jackets to let us know if they're for real or not. It starts again tonight!

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