Game 46 Preview: Finishing Strong

Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets

January 19, 2012 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: On the Forecheck

Tonight's game is all about finishing strong: finishing the home stand (Columbus can go 3-1 with a win tonight), and finishing games strong against the Predators. The last two times out against Nashville have been nothing short of completely groin-shatteringly bad losses for Columbus: there was the blown 3-1 lead in the final 90 seconds at home (OT loss), and the 4-1 end-of-first lead that was blown in a 6-5 loss in Nashville.

It won't be easy; Nashville is playing very, very well right now. They've won eight of ten (and that includes a loss on Tuesday to the Rangers), and have jumped all the way up to 6th in the conference. Columbus will get a small break, as Ryan Suter is not in the lineup tonight.

More generally, though, the Jackets have shown this season that they can score on Pekke Rinne. They've managed three-plus goals in three of the four matchups this season. In two of the last three games, the Jackets have notched four goals (one EN, to be fair), so they've shown the ability to generate some offense under Todd Richards. They will need to do that again tonight.

The Dispatch guys are reporting that Steve Mason was first off the ice this morning, and that generally indicates the starter. In other words, hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. At the end of the day, however, it will come down to one thing: finishing. If the Jackets can finish their chances, and if they can finish the third period if they find themselves fortunate enough to have a lead. Finish strong, men.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(13-27-5, 31 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Derick Brassard Rick Nash
Tomas Kubalik Antoine Vermette Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot John Moore
Aaron Johnson David Savard
Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

Nashville Predators
(17-23-4, 38 Points; 4th Division, 6th Conference)

Colin Wilson David Legwand Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn Mike Fisher Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque Nick Spaling Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk Craig Smith Brian McGrattan
Francis Bouillon Shea Weber
Roman Josi Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen Ryan Ellis
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Season Series

10/07/11 - Nashville 3 at Columbus 2 - RECAP
11/19/11 - Columbus 4 at Nashville 3 (OT)
12/08/11 - Nashville 4 at Columbus 3 (OT) - RECAP
12/22/11 - Columbus 5 at Nashville 6 - RECAP
01/17/12 - Nashville at Columbus
01/23/12 - Columbus at Nashville

Head to Head

Nashville Columbus
2.65 (13) GPG 2.38 (26)
2.65 (12) GAPG 3.22 (29)
21.0% (3) PP% 14.9% (23)
82.7% (13) PK% 77.2% (29)
David Legwand, 13 G leader Rick Nash, 16
Shea Weber, 23 A leader Vinny Prospal, 21
Shea Weber, 32 Pts leader Rick Nash, 32
Jordin Tootoo, 62 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 107
12-9-1 Road/Home 8-12-3
1/17 @ NYR, L 0-3 Last Game 1/17 vs. Edmonton, W 4-2
8-2-0 Last 10 4-5-1

Game Notes:

  • Central Casting - Seriously... how STACKED is the Central Division right now? The Predators are fourth in the division, and only SIXTH in the conference. Don't forget that the other two division leaders are automatically top-3 in the conference. Four of the highest 10 point totals in the entire NHL live in the Central Division. Sadly, none of those four reside in Columbus, but...
  • Scheduling Quirk - As of this coming Monday night, Columbus will be playing its last game against Nashville for the season. Not too often that you see two division rivals done playing each other in January.
  • Polished Brass - Yep, using this heading again. Derick Brassard has been playing some of the best hockey of his career since Todd Richards took over as coach (and, to be fair, ever a little before that). He's going to force a tough decision if/when Jeff Carter comes back, as he's truly flourished on the top line since Carter's injury. Brass has three goals and two assists in his last six games. More, please.
  • Killin' It? - The Jackets have actually killed off 31 of their past 36 times shorthanded (86.1%). That's not half-bad (the fact that they're still at 77% and 29th... well, it tells you just how bad they had been prior). They do, however, need to avoid taking excess penalties, as the Predators' PP unit is pretty solid. Even without Suter. Shea Weber enjoys crushing the souls of his opponents on the man advantage, so let's try to limit those chances, shall we?

The Jackets can win this game. They have to believe it. They've played well at home on this home-stand, losing only to the nuclear-hot Sharks on a late bad rebound goal. They can play with the Preds. They just have to make the most of their chances, and not implode yet again late. It can be done, boys!

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