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Game #63 Preview: Going west to change our fortunes

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Blue Jackets look to take rock and roll (and duck tape) to Nashville

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 8:00 EST

Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM

Opponent’s Blog: On The Forecheck

Nashville Predators (29-23-7, 65 pts, 5th Central, 10th West)

Hosting

Columbus Blue Jackets (30-19-13, 73 pts, 4th Metro, 7th East)

“Bring out yer dead”

The Columbus Blue Jackets head to Nashville to take on the Predators. It’s awfully hard to say, with any degree of confidence, what will happen. Thursday’s game against Philadelphia resulted in an OT loss and, far more importantly, the loss of Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstrand has been the most consistent offensive threat in recent weeks. Not even an earlier injury could throw off his rhythm. This latest injury, an ankle fracture, pretty much ends his season. That doesn’t speak well for the Columbus offense find a spark – at least not a predictable spark. Pierre-Luc Dubois has been a bit cold lately. Zach Werenski has to focus more on defense. Nick Foligno has been generally less than helpful, though he did put 2 points on the board Thursday. That’s what the CBJ are going to need more of – some slumbering volcanoes need to start percolating. Foligno, Boone Jenner, PLD. Milano, if he plays. Matteau and Thurkauf, if they get opportunities.

Defensive play has fractured as well. It’s easy to forget how much Seth Jones does for everyone. Defense has been the foundation after an early, shaky start to the year. It has to tighten up again for the team to have a chance. The offense has to wake up for the team to take advantage of that chance.

But I’m not dead yet!”

And that’s the one bit of light to cling to. The Jackets are still in a playoff spot. They can still have another turnaround. They can still straighten up and fly right. But they’ll have to do it soon – and tonight against the Predators is as good a time as any.

The Nashville Predators have had a rougher year than most folks would have predicted for them. They sit outside the playoff picture and have had trouble getting enough traction to make a move up the standings. However, they do have a couple of good cards up their sleeves. They are 3 pts out but have 2 games in hand (not including last night’s Chicago game) on 8th place Calgary and a whopping 5 (!) games in hand on Arizona. They have to do more than .500 hockey, though. A quick look at their players tells a lot of the tale. Their leading scorer is Roman Josi, a defenseman, who has 19 more points than Matt Duchene. The goaltending has been less than stellar. Special teams are poor and incredibad, respectively. And yet….they are still within reach of a playoff spot. They are also playing the 2nd game of a B2B.

You all know this means Columbus will win 4-1.

Player to Watch

Calvin Thurkauf

Let’s keep an eye on the latest Monster call-up who is pretty much guaranteed to score a goal – that’s how things work this season. You can read some useful info provided by our Monsters guru, Elaine Shircliff right here. He’s basically a taller version of Gerbe, as far as I can tell. So there should be no one on Nashville’s roster that can take him. On a serious note, it’s a good opportunity for The Big Thurk to make an impact for Columbus. There’s no one for the rookie to defer to – he is free to spread his wings (as long as he plays some defense, too).

Jackets Notes

*listening to some Kenny G turned low, drinking some wine, and staring wistfully out the window* Sigh…Bjorkstrand.

The Other Bench

Nashville leads the league in ex-CBJ centers who aren’t meeting their contract expectations or hype…Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros have pretty similar stats this season, but Saros was supposed to be the heir to Rinne…Perhaps the problem is not the goalies?...Thanks for Seth Jones, David Poile…

Season Series

02/22/2020 CBJ @ NSH

3/14/2020 NSH @ CBJ

Stats

Nashville Columbus
3.19 (10) GPG 2.56 (28)>
3.19 (24) GAPG 2.52 (2)
16.4% (T-23) PP% 16.1% (T-25)
74.0% (31) PK% 81.9% (11)
51.3% (10) 5v5 Corsi % 49.3% (19)
51.8% (6) 5v5 Fenwick % 51.0% (11)
9.0 (5) 5v5 Shot % 6.8 (29)
.919 (14) 5v5 Save % .932 (4)
Filip Forsberg, 18 G Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 21
Roman Josi, 43 A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 27
Roman Josi, 57 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 44
Austin Watson, 65 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 60
13-12-4 Home / Road 12-8-9
6-4-0 Last 10 3-3-4

Possible Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Stefan Matteau Boone Jenner Emil Bemstrom
Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Gustav Nyquist
Sonny Milano Kevin Stenlund Calvin Thurkauf
Jakob Lilja Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Markus Nutivaara
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Andrew Peeke Scott Harrington
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg Ryan Johansen Viktor Arvidsson
Calle Jarnkrok Matt Duchene Mikael Granlund
Rocco Grimaldi Kyle Turris Craig Smith
Colin Blackwell Colton Sissons Austin Watson
Roman Josi Ryan Ellis
Jarred Tinordi Mattias Ekholm
Dan Hamhuis Dante Fabbro
Pekka Rinne
Juuse Saros