6:00 PM CST | 102.9 FM | FS-TN (HD)
The Nashville Predators are in Columbus, Ohio tonight for an early evening tilt against the Blue Jackets. Nashville will be looking to build upon their victory over the Coyotes last night, while Columbus needs to rebound from a pair of losses to the Red Wings. The Predators sit just four points behind the Jackets and two out of a playoff spot, so a regulation win tonight could prove crucial down the road.
Lineups and pregame thoughts after the jump.
Its unclear if Barry Trotz will go with his "shutout rule" and start Pekka Rinne, who was nothing short of spectacular against Phoenix, or if Anders Lindback will get the call on the back end of a back-to-back. Between the opponent being a division rival and having just pitched a shutout, my guess is Rinne.
|2010 - Pekka Rinne||18||1022||7||7||40||2.35||496||456||.919||3|
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the BJs will go with Steve Mason in goal.
|2010 - Steve Mason||15||873||8||7||42||2.89||481||439||.913||1|
- Nashville is 5-3-2 in their last ten games, which, all things considered, is not that bad. The key, of course, is replicating last night's performance down the road. Pekka Rinne is not going to stand on his head every night, and so, the team needs get better at locking things down.
- So far on the season, Nashville is 2-1-1 in games played on the 2nd half of a back-to-back, part of 13 such sets they'll play this year. (for a leaguewide comparison, check out this year's NHL Super Schedule).
- The Jackets are currently in a playoff spot, but again, I'm not exactly sure how they're doing it. I don't see their success sustainable over the long term, but until then, its up to the Predators to adjust and introduce Scott Arniel to the Central Division pecking order.
- During his goal celebration and in his postgame comments, Shea Weber appeared relieved to have finally scored again, especially on the power play. While Nashville's captain can (and does) certainly contribute away from the scoresheet, he's relied upon to contribute a fair amount of goals from the blueline, which to date haven't been coming as they have in recent years. Weber has finished 2nd in the NHL in goals by a defenseman for two years running, and its important that he continue his stronger play tonight.
- RJ Umberger is currently on a nine game point streak, which means that the Blue Jackets have a potent offensive line outside of whichever line holds Rick Nash. Expect Jerred Smithson, Joel Ward, and Jordin Tootoo to draw the top line when possible, so Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat must step up.
- As of last night, Nashville has killed off 24 consecutive penalties, and not allowed a power play goal since the loss to Toronto. Its moved their PK to 10th in the NHL, and along with Rinne, is quickly becoming something the Predators can rely on to keep them in the game.
- Last night was good, and it was encouraging, but the Preds have to come out and do it again, and I think they know that. We'll see how well they respond.