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Game #1 Preview: Jackets begin 2021 campaign in Nashville

Here’s what you need to know

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

Thursday, January 14 - 8:00 EST
Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: On the Forecheck

Columbus Blue Jackets


Nashville Predators

It’s here! The season finally begins tonight, as the Blue Jackets start their 56 game sprint with a four game road trip. First up: two games against the Nashville Predators.

Player to Watch

Michael Del Zotto

One of the biggest surprises in camp was the emergence of veteran journeyman Del Zotto as a contender for a regular spot on the third defensive pair. It’s surprising because most fans around the league who have seen Del Zotto play for their team share the consensus that he’s not good. But he was good ten years ago when he played for Torts in New York, so the Jackets staff obviously sees something in him now. Is it worth stashing promising youngster Andrew Peeke on the taxi squad? We’ll find out. If MDZ does well, it’s good for the team. If he does poorly, hopefully that negative impact is minimized on the third pairing, and is only for a short term.

Jackets Notes

Free agent signing Mikko Koivu is unavailable for this game due to COVID-19 protocols. Once he is eligible to return, another roster move will have to be made to make room for him ... Expected healthy scratches on the active roster are forward Kevin Stenlund and defensemen Scott Harrington and Gabriel Carlsson ... Rounding out the roster in Columbus is the taxi squad, consisting of goalie Matiss Kivlenieks, defensemen Peeke and Adam Clendening, and forwards Stefan Matteau, Nathan Gerbe, and Ryan MacInnis ... Torts told the media yesterday that he had informed the goalies who would start, but he declined to share that news with reporters. He did confirm that it would be a tandem, with neither goalie being the clear #1.

The Other Bench

The Preds are led by their captain, Roman Josi, who won the Norris Trophy last season as the top defensemen in the league ... Forward Mikael Granlund is day to day with an injury ... In their 20 year history, the Blue Jackets have won just 9 games in Bridgestone Arena ... The last Blue Jackets win against the Predators was their last win in Nashville, during their hot streak in March 2019. Prior to that, they last won in Nashville in 2014 ... The Blue Jackets are 7-12-0 against the Predators in the month of January.

Season Series

01/14/21 CBJ @ NSH
01/16/21 CBJ @ NSH
02/18/21 NSH @ CBJ
02/20/21 NSH @ CBJ
02/27/21 CBJ @ NSH
02/28/21 CBJ @ NSH
05/03/21 NSH @ CBJ
05/05/21 NSH @ CBJ

2019-20 Stats

Nashville Columbus
3.07 (16) GPG 2.57 (27)
3.10 (19) GAPG 2.61 (3)
17.3% (24) PP% 16.4% (27)
76.1% (28) PK% 81.7% (12)
50.9% (10) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 49.2% (19)
51.6% (5) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 50.9% (11)
8.6 (9) 5v5 Shot % 6.8 (28)
.920 (12) 5v5 Save % .928 (5)
Filip Forsberg, 21 G Leader Oliver BJORKSTRAND, 21
Roman Josi, 49 A Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 31
Roman Josi, 65 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 49
Austin Watson, 65 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 62
17-14-4 Home / Road 13-10-11

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Mikhail Grigorenko Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Nick Foligno Max Domi Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner Alexandre Texier Emil Bemstrom
Liam Foudy Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Michael Del Zotto Dean Kukan
Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins
Nashville Predators
Filip Forsberg Ryan Johansen Viktor Arvidsson
Erik Haula Matt Duchene Rocco Grimaldi
Calle Jarnkrok Colton Sissons Luke Kunin
Nick Cousins Brad Richardson Eeli Tolvanen
Roman Josi Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm Dante Fabbro
Mark Borowiecki Matt Benning
Juuse Saros
Pekka Rinne